Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Justice Thomas threatened to quit the Court and then the gifts rolled in

Interviews and newly unearthed documents by ProPublica reveal that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, facing financial strain, privately pushed for a higher salary and to allow Supreme Court justices to take speaking fees.

Congress never lifted the ban on speaking fees or gave the justices a major raise. But in the years that followed, as ProPublica has reported, Thomas accepted a stream of gifts from friends and acquaintances that appears to be unparalleled in the modern history of the Supreme Court. Some defrayed living expenses large and small — private school tuition, vehicle batteries, tires. Other gifts from a coterie of ultrarich men supplemented his lifestyle, such as free international vacations on the private jet and superyacht of Dallas real estate billionaire Harlan Crow.

Precisely what led so many people to offer Thomas money and other gifts remains an open question. There’s no evidence the justice ever raised the specter of resigning with Crow or his other wealthy benefactors.

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