Five Congressional Democrats — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), and Hank Johnson (Ga.) — have signed a new letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that seeks a Justice Department investigation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The Democrats are outraged at the years of pricey hospitality and accommodations that Thomas and his wife, Ginni, received without making comprehensive reports, and these Democrats believe the judge may have violated his legal obligations related to his financial disclosures. The members of Congress even noted that some such violations can lead to a stint in jail. Even mentioning the possibility in a letter focused on a member of the nation’s highest court illustrates the Democratic members’ seriousness.
“Although, in some instances, an officer’s receipt of “food, lodging, and entertainment” may be exempted from mandatory disclosure as “personal hospitality,” that exemption does not extend to the officer’s receipt of complimentary transportation, such as the extensive private jet, helicopter, and yacht travel received by Justice Thomas,” the Dems argued to Garland in their missive.
The members proceeded to outline some of the hospitality for Thomas that recent reporting has revealed, including what amounts to dozens of high-dollar vacations, air travel, and even VIP access at a sporting event. The underlying concern is that the financial ties essentially established through Thomas having received all these benefits could provide for a conflict of interest while the judge participates in making decisions that could impact the everyday lives of millions of Americans.
“Justice Thomas’s consistent failure to disclose gifts and benefits from industry magnates and wealthy, politically active executives highlights a blatant disregard for judicial ethics as well as apparent legal violations. No individual, regardless of their position or stature, should be exempt from legal scrutiny for lawbreaking,” the Democratic members added. Some Democrats have also demanded that Thomas resign, while some Republicans take the broadsides against Thomas very personally, characterizing the outrage as based in some kind of racial animosity that a Black man is conservative.