Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and four other Democrats are demanding that the Department of Justice launch an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after a series of eye-opening reports have detailed a vast web of corruption surrounding the conservative justice.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday, the lawmakers point out that Thomas has been failing to disclose gifts and travel that he has received from a host of right-wing billionaires for decades, which they say represents “defiance of his duty” to file federal disclosure requirements.
In failing to disclose these gifts and transactions, the lawmakers say that Thomas has carried out violations that are supposed to be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
“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,” the lawmakers write. “No individual, regardless of their position or stature, should be exempt from legal scrutiny for lawbreaking.”
“As a Supreme Court justice and high constitutional officer, Justice Thomas should be held to the highest standard, not the lowest — and he certainly shouldn’t be allowed to violate federal law,” they continue. “Refusing to hold him accountable would set a dangerous precedent, undermining public trust in our institutions and raising legitimate questions about the equal application of laws in our nation.”
The letter was spearheaded by Ocasio-Cortez and signed by Representatives Hank Johnson (D-Georgia), Ted Lieu (D-California), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland).
The letter came just after ProPublica published its most thorough investigation on Thomas yet, detailing at least 38 vacations, 26 private jet flights, a dozen VIP passes to sporting events, and more luxury items, all from wealthy benefactors, which Thomas never disclosed. The value of these gifts likely totals in the millions of dollars, and came from people who entered Thomas’s life after he was appointed to the highest court in the land.
The investigation added to a small mountain of revelations about Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas, and the lavish lifestyle they live, as funded by their billionaire friends with things such as a $267,000 RV and Thomas’s membership in an elite club for the wealthy. There is also, of course, the seemingly large part of Thomas’s life that is funded by real estate billionaire Harlan Crow, such as Thomas’s great-nephew’s private schooling, the properties that Crow has bought from Thomas, and the house and renovations that Crow has provided Thomas’s mother.
Ethics experts have said that Thomas is almost certainly in flagrant violation of the law with his failure to disclose these gifts.
Lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez and Lieu have called on Thomas to resign or face impeachment. Those calls were reupped last week after ProPublica’s latest report on the justice.
“Justice Thomas has brought shame upon himself and the United States Supreme Court with his acceptance of massive, repeated and undisclosed gifts,” Lieu wrote on Thursday. “No government official, elected or unelected, could ethically or legally accept gifts of that scale. He should resign immediately.”
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