Calls to impeach SCOTUS Justice Thomas after lavish trips funded by billionaire revealed – National & International News – THU 6Apr2023
Calls to impeach SCOTUS Justice Thomas after lavish gifts from billionaire revealed.
Tennessee GOP vote on expelling three Democrat lawmakers over gun protest.
Calls to impeach SCOTUS Justice Thomas after lavish gifts from billionaire revealed
ProPublica has published a lengthy exposé detailing numerous lavish trips that conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been gifted by billionaire Republican megadonor Harlan Crow over the last two decades. Crow treated Thomas and his wife Ginni to travel experiences that would have otherwise cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In just one example, Crow flew Thomas and Ginni on his private jet to Indonesia in 2019. There, they joined Crow for a nine-day island-hopping excursion on Crow’s 162-foot luxury yacht. That trip alone would have cost more than $500,000, nearly double Thomas’ annual salary of $285,000. Nearly every year for the past two decades, the Thomases have enjoyed similarly extravagant trips on Crow’s dime, flying on his jet and cruising around the world on his yacht.
There’s enormous potential for conflict because Crow isn’t just any billionaire. He’s also on the boards of the conservative think tanks Club for Growth and the American Enterprise Institute, both of which engage in political and judicial advocacy for conservative causes.
Despite the unseemliness of a Supreme Court Justice accepting Crow’s extravagant largesse, had Thomas declared these gifts on his legally-required yearly financial disclosures, there would be no impeachable ethical violation. But he never has declared them.
Calls for impeachment
Impeachment is the only remedy in a case where a Supreme Court Justice has committed a clear ethical violation and potentially violated federal law (for not disclosing the gifts). Following the release of ProPublica’s story, some Democratic lawmakers have called for Thomas to be impeached (and not for the first time). However, this is very unlikely to happen as the GOP-controlled House of Representatives would have to initiate impeachment proceedings.
Recently, concerns about lobbying of Supreme Court Justices by various political and religious groups have been on the rise. This includes right-wing Christian activists who’ve offered trips, fancy dinners, invites to high-profile functions and other perks to the Justices in order to advance their religious agenda with the Court. In another case, a former colleague of Chief Justice Roberts’ wife Jane raised ethics concerns about Jane’s past work as a recruiter for high-profile law firms, some of whom have since had cases before the Court.
Currently, the Supreme Court has no binding code of ethics that would require them to recuse themselves from ruling in cases involving parties from whom they’ve received financial gifts or other inducements. Even before the ProPublica story, some Senate Democrats have called for next year’s funding bill for the Supreme Court to require the creation of an ethics code for the Justices.
Tennessee GOP vote on expelling three Democrat lawmakers over gun protest
Last Thursday, a huge crowd of protesters amassed at the Tennessee statehouse demanding gun reforms after last month’s deadly shooting at a private Christian elementary school. They had been coming for days, only to be ignored by the GOP-led House. More came each day until Thursday, only one Democratic lawmaker was given the floor by GOP leadership to address the need for reforms.
Denied a chance to speak, three junior Democratic lawmakers took to the floor during a recess to address the crowd assembled in the gallery. They didn’t have mics, so they used a bullhorn to speak to the protesters. Their protest was peaceful. However, some GOP lawmakers then rushed the Democrats and a confrontation followed. At least one of the Democrats claims that a GOP colleague assaulted him.
Now, those three lawmakers, Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville, Justin Pearson of Memphis and Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, may be expelled from the legislature. Three GOP lawmakers brought a motion to expel Jones, Pearson and Johnson earlier this week for allegedly violating the chamber’s rules of decorum. The House speaker called Jones, Pearson and Johnson “insurrectionists” and accused them trying to incite a riot. None of the GOP lawmakers involved in the scuffle that followed are being disciplined in any way.
At the time of this writing, the House has voted to expel Jones but allowed Johnson to stay. A vote on Pearson is still expected today.
Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).