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September 1, 2023

Justice Thomas’s Financial Disclosure

Will Justice Clarence Thomas’s newly submitted 2022 financial disclosure form put an end to the smears?

Utah Senator Mike Lee said it best when the Left’s efforts to delegitimize our nation’s third coequal branch of government became too egregious to ignore. “This is all just a thuggish shakedown,” he said. “Nice Supreme Court you’ve got there America; sure would be a shame if something happened to it.”

The particular targets of the Left’s smear machine have been Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who just so happen to be the Court’s most reliable constitutional conservatives. We’re sure it’s mere coincidence.

Thomas, of course, is used to this. After all, he’s been the object of the Left’s disaffection ever since his confirmation hearings in 1991 — hearings led by then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden, hearings so vicious that then-nominee Thomas called them “a high-tech lynching.”

The Left’s thirst for power knows no bounds, though, nor does its intolerance of our pesky Constitution. Which is why, as the Washington Examiner reports, Thomas and Alito “have faced repeated scrutiny on the left, particularly from the outlet ProPublica. On April 6, ProPublica ran a report suggesting Thomas ‘should have disclosed his trips’ taken more than decades ago with [longtime friend Harlan] Crow, citing the advice of ‘ethics law experts.’ The outlet ran a separate report on June 20 suggesting Alito engaged in ethical impropriety in July 2008 when he went on a fishing trip in Alaska, prompting the justice to take matters into his own hands and issue a swift rebuke through a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled ‘ProPublica Misleads Its Readers.’”

“Justice Thomas’s critics allege that he failed to report gifts from wealthy friends. Untrue,” said Thomas’s attorney, Elliott Berke, in a statement regarding his client’s newly released 2022 financial disclosure form. “He has never accepted a gift from anyone with business before the Court. For anyone who knows him at all, it is clear that no one influences Justice Clarence Thomas’s jurisprudence. But friends are dear, close, and separate. He has included all other reportable gifts on his disclosure forms.”

Berke continued, “Much of the noise to the contrary is based on malicious and sloppy reporting and attacks from partisans who disagree with his jurisprudence and want to drive him and others off the Court.”

What’s all this about? Essentially, three trips Justice Thomas took last year on a private jet owned by a longtime personal friend, Texas billionaire real estate developer Harlan Crow, who’s also, not surprisingly, a major donor to GOP candidates and causes. Thomas’s newly submitted 2022 Financial Disclosure Report also clears up several inadvertent mistakes from previous years, including a real estate transaction between Thomas and Crow.

It could’ve been worse. For example, Justice Thomas could’ve used his Supreme Court staff to shamelessly peddle his book to colleges, universities, and assorted libraries.

Oh, wait. As our Emmy Griffin recently noted: “Justice Sonia Sotomayor is pushing her books on libraries and colleges whenever she has a speaking engagement. She is also using her staff to help. Just to be clear, this sort of activity would be an ethics violation in any other branch of government.”

Apparently, not even our nation’s Supreme Court justices are exempt from our nation’s two-tiered system of justice.

Justices Thomas and Alito are allowed to have wealthy friends, and they’re allowed to go on vacation trips just like every other American citizen. Which is why Berke’s above-mentioned statement, six pages in all, was an unusual step but a necessary one: It called out what we might regard as The Politics of Personal Destruction. “No Justice, Justice Thomas included,” wrote Berke, “should be subjected to such political blood sport. It is painfully obvious that these attacks are motivated by hatred for his judicial philosophy, not by any real belief in any ethical lapses.”

A few weeks ago, we covered Justice Alito’s effort to take the fight to those who would smear him and diminish his office. Justice Thomas’s new disclosures are another welcome development.

But as to whether this sort of transparency will quiet the critics, we doubt it. For the Left, there’s far too much at stake.

Updated with additional context and a link to Justice Thomas’s 2022 financial disclosure form.

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