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The Supreme Court is supposed to be the highest, most impartial court system in the United States. Justices are appointed for life to prevent their decisions from being swayed by the court of public opinion. These justices are also supposed to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits even the “appearance of impropriety.” For over two decades, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted free luxury vacations from Republican mega-donor and real estate mogul Harlan Crow, failing to report any of these trips on financial disclosure forms. By disregarding the ethics codes of the Supreme Court, Thomas has betrayed the American people’s trust in not only himself but the entire Supreme Court. 

Justice Thomas is no stranger to ethical dilemmas, even failing to recuse himself in a 2020 case involving his wife’s efforts to overturn the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. Although Crow and Thomas claim to be close friends, most ethics experts agree that the law clearly states these private jet flights and yacht charters must be disclosed. In fact, Justices are required to report any gifts of value surpassing more than $400. If Clarence Thomas had paid for any of these trips, the bill would be upwards of $50,000 per trip, well exceeding the required disclosure cost.  

Despite what he may say, it is clear that Harlan Crow had more than friendship on his mind during these luxury vacations. Through these trips, Crow subjected Justice Thomas to the lobbying efforts of anyone he chose to invite, frequently inviting along political “activists” and corporate moguls. Crow has spent millions of dollars as a major Republican donor, even going as far as to classify Marxism as his greatest fear. As a longtime financial backer of the Federalist Society, Crow’s lobbying efforts concentrate on moving the judiciary to the right. Crow even stated, “We believe it is important to make sure as many people as possible learn about him, remember him and understand the ideals for which he stands,” in reference to Thomas after he and his wife commissioned several projects in the Justices honor. 

In the summer of 2019, Clarence Thomas, alongside several other guests, flew to Indonesia on Harlan Crow’s private jet. Also on this trip was Donald Trump’s general console for the office of Management and Budget administration, Mark Paoletta. Despite his long term friendship with both Thomas and Crow, Paoletta, bound by the ethics of his office, unlike Thomas, not only disclosed the trip but also reimbursed Harlan for the whole trip. 

It is unclear how many undisclosed gifts Clarence Thomas has accepted from the Republican mega-donor. One thing is for certain; this ethical violation is enough grounds for Thomas’ impeachment from the court system he appears to have little respect for. The government is supposed to act with the people’s will, but Clarence Thomas is working for his own personal gain, blatantly disrespecting the American People’s trust.