Another Clarence Thomas faux pas

Taken from the “SCOTUS Blog” and originally published at “Howe on the Court.”

Usually if I am going to read about SCOTUS, I go to the SCOTUS Blog. There I find up to date information about what it is doing and what is left for it to decide upon. In 2024, there are some important decisions to be announced. I am surprised Alito has not dropped a few hints. “Howe on the Court” will join my list of reads.

One has to wonder how many more “oops I missed this occurrence” by Thomas. At what point does Roberts say “enough is enough?”


In financial disclosure Thomas adds two “inadvertently omitted” trips from billionaire Crow

Justice Clarence Thomas revealed on Friday that conservative billionaire Harlan Crow paid for two trips in 2019, involving a hotel stay in Bali, Indonesia, and at a private club in Sonoma County, Calif. The news came as part of the justices’ annual financial disclosures, which are filed in mid-May and released in early June each year. The forms published online on Friday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts chronicled the justices’ book royalties – including an advance of nearly $900,000 for the court’s newest justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson – as well as their teaching gigs, gifts, and investments.

The disclosures are relatively opaque and are intended to provide information about potential conflicts of interest and the justices’ compliance with ethical standards rather than snapshots of the justices’ wealth.

Financial disclosures for eight of the nine justices were available on Friday. The forms were due on May 15, but the justices can receive extensions of up to 90 days to submit their forms. Forms for Justice Samuel Alito, who received an extension last year, were not available online.

Thomas disclosed the trips funded by Crow at the end of his 2023 form, explaining that he had “inadvertently omitted” them when he filed his 2019 form. With regard to the second trip, he noted that he had received “food and lodging” at a private club in Monte Rio, Calif. Monte Rio is the home of Bohemian Grove, an exclusive and secretive men’s-only retreat.

Both Thomas’s trip to Indonesia and his stay at Bohemian Grove were revealed last year in an investigation by ProPublica.

Other justices also traveled overseas during 2023, although often in connection with their teaching positions. Both Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Justice Brett Kavanaugh served as adjunct professors at Notre Dame’s law school (where Barrett spent much of her career before becoming a judge and then a justice), teaching in London in the spring of 2023. Barrett received just under $15,000 from the law school, while Kavanaugh netted $25,000.

Justice Neil Gorsuch also headed to Europe to teach in 2023, but to Lisbon, Portugal, where he spent two weeks in July with George Mason University and its National Security Institute. Gorsuch was paid $30,000 by George Mason. Gorsuch traveled to the United Kingdom – to London and Oxford – for a “speech and educational program” for the Federalist Society.

It was a lucrative year for the justices with book deals (as well as their literary agents). Jackson received an advance on the book deal – reportedly worth about $3 million – for her memoir, Lovely One. Kavanaugh reported a payment of $340,000 for his legal memoir, which is expected in 2025 or 2026. Gorsuch reported $250,000 from HarperCollins; his new book, Over Ruled: The Human Toll of Too Much Law, is slated for release on Aug. 6.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the author of several books, reported royalties from Penguin Random House, but she also disclosed a payment of $1,879.16 for a guest appearance – voicing herself – on the PBS animated series Alma’s Way.

The justices’ 2023 financial disclosures came online one day after the nonpartisan watchdog group Fix the Court released a list it had compiled of gifts received by the justices over the past 20 years. Fix the Court reported that between Jan. 2004 and Dec. 2023, the justices accepted 344 gifts valued at nearly $3 million.

The group noted that the majority of those gifts were accepted by Thomas, who was the subject of several investigations last year about (among other things) his failure to disclose luxury yacht and private jet travel paid for by Crow, as well as payments made for his grandnephew’s tuition at a private school. Fix the Court identified $2.4 million in gifts Thomas accepted and an additional $1.7 million in “likely gifts,” as much as $4 million in gifts during that time.

Thomas noted just one gift on his 2023 disclosure: two photo albums worth $2,000 from Terrence and Barbara Giroux. Terrence Giroux was until recently the executive director of the Horatio Alger Association, an organization that describes itself as “committed to promoting the American Dream and ensuring it for future generations.” Thomas serves as an honorary member of the group’s board, and he hosts an annual ceremony for the group in the Supreme Court’s courtroom.

Jackson noted two gifts of art for her chambers, including a $10,000 gift from Lonnie Holley, an Alabama artist whose website indicates that his sculptures are “constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture.” And in perhaps the most glamorous entry on any justice’s form, she disclosed the gift of four tickets to a Beyonce concert, valued at $3,711.84.

Other justices’ forms contained more prosaic entries. Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, did not list any reimbursable travel or gifts, and he did not hold any outside positions. Justice Elena Kagan’s form included the income that she received from renting a parking space in her apartment building, while Kavanaugh’s list of “outside positions” included his role as coach of the basketball team for fifth- and sixth-grade girls at his local parish.

This article was originally published at Howe on the Court