Senate Democrats have called on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to probe the findings of a recent media report detailing Justice Clarence Thomas’ lavish, secret trips paid for by a conservative billionaire.
In a Monday (April 10) letter, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin ( D-Ill.) and ten other Democrats on the panel asserted that Roberts has a responsibility to investigate a ProPublica article published Thursday (April 6) that says financier and Republican donor, Harlan Crow has been financing Thomas’s luxury trips for years.
The Senators wrote that Roberts initiate an immediate investigation and take steps to “prevent further misconduct.”
The panel explained its plans to hold a hearing “to restore confidence” in the ethical standards of the Supreme Court, adding that it was also considering legislation to address those concerns.
According to the letter, Roberts previously rejected a 2012 request by Durbin and some members of the Judiciary Committee to implement a resolution that would bind the judges to a code of conduct that applies to all federal judges.
The 2012 application was also made when reports surfaced about Crow’s donations to Thomas.
In a 2011 report on the federal judiciary, the court praised its “jurists of exceptional integrity and experience,” explaining it didn’t have a “reason to adopt the code of conduct” as its definitive source of ethical guidance.
In a statement Friday, Thomas called Crow and his wife, Kathy, his “dearest friends.” He said that early in his tenure, he was told that “personal hospitality from close personal friends” who didn’t have relevant business with the court did not have to be reported.
Thomas explained that he has followed that advice throughout his tenure and would attempt to comply with the disclosure guidelines.”
Shortly before ProPublica’s story was published, the Supreme Court announced it was tightening its rules on what judges and justices must include in their annual accounting reports.