Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is facing scrutiny over his alleged failure to disclose gifts and luxurious travel from wealthy Republican donor Harlan Crow. Now, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin is calling out the Supreme Court Justice for his supposed violation of ethics rules that should apply to other public servants.
In an interview on NBC News‘ “Meet the Press,” Durbin asked host Chuck Todd if Thomas‘ reported conduct would amount to a violation of law if he were a circuit court judge. Durbin insisted that a clear conflict of interest is apparent in Thomas‘ case.
“So yes, there‘s no question in my mind that the Supreme Court has exempted itself from standards that apply to the executive and legislative branch and even to other judges,” Durbin said.
In a statement last Saturday, Durbin said he had asked Chief Justice John Roberts to testify before Congress in early May about ethics rules for Supreme Court justices and potential changes following the Thomas revelations. Durbin said he had received a response from Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, secretary of the Judicial Conference, who told him that his request had been forwarded to its Committee on Financial Disclosure.
Thomas has acknowledged his failure to disclose trips paid for by Crow. In a statement this month, Thomas said that Crow and his wife, Kathy, are “dearest friends” and that he and his wife have joined them on family trips for years.
The Supreme Court recently tightened the exemption for “personal hospitality” by making it clear that trips on private jets and stays at privately owned resorts would have to be disclosed. This change came weeks before ProPublica‘s report on Thomas‘ trips that were funded by Crow.
This latest scandal has reignited the debate over whether Supreme Court justices should be held to the same standards as other public servants. It‘s clear that the American people are demanding more transparency and accountability from the highest court in the land. Only time will tell if the Supreme Court is willing to comply.