When the Supreme Court is for Sale, It’s No Longer Supreme
Evidence has materialized that one of the Supreme Court of the United States justices sent their grandnephew to a private college.
The cost was roughly $6,000 per month.
It was paid for by a billionaire named Harlan Crow.
It’s estimated that payments may have reached as much as $US 150,000.
ProPublica interviewed Martin, his former classmates and former staff at both schools. The exact total Crow paid for Martin’s education over the years remains unclear. If he paid for all four years at the two schools, the price tag could have exceeded $150,000, according to public records of tuition rates at the schools.
Thomas did not report the tuition payments from Crow on his annual financial disclosures. Several years earlier, Thomas disclosed a gift of $5,000 for Martin’s education from another friend. It is not clear why he reported that payment but not Crow’s.
The tuition payments add to the picture of how the Republican megadonor has helped fund the lives of Thomas and his family.
“You can’t be having secret financial arrangements,” said Mark W. Bennett, a retired federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton. Bennett said he was friendly with Thomas and declined to comment for the record about the specifics of Thomas’ actions. But he said that when he was on the bench, he wouldn’t let his lawyer friends buy him lunch.
This is all on top of regular private flights that Thomas has taken at the expense of Crow.
IN LATE JUNE 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.
If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.
Thomas has since issued a statement about these elaborate trips and expenses:
“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” Thomas said in the statement. “I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines.”
But seven legal ethics experts consulted by ProPublica, including former ethics lawyers for Congress and the White House, said the law clearly requires that gifts of transportation, including private jet flights, be disclosed. If Thomas is arguing otherwise, the experts said, he is incorrect.
ProPublica asked the seven legal ethics experts about the exception and Thomas’ statement. All said that the law’s language clearly requires that gifts of transportation, such as private jet travel or cruises on a yacht, be disclosed and said Thomas appears to have violated the law by failing to report them.
What a mess.
What else is not known about Thomas or other justices and their ‘access’ to certain privileges?
How does this affect their decision-making process?
These are people that are making decisions that affect the lives of every American and, by influence, billions of people around the world.
If the Supreme Court is for sale, it is no longer supreme.