GOP Senators’ Silence on Clarence Thomas Scandal: Bought by Billionaire Donor?

Nine Republican Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee have collectively received nearly half a million dollars in campaign donations from Harlan Crow, the GOP billionaire donor who has allegedly given Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed gifts since the mid-1990s. As a result, these senators have refused to sign a letter requesting a full accounting of Crow’s financial ties to Thomas and any other high court judges.

Watchdog group Accountable.US revealed that these GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have accepted $457,000 from Crow between 2001 and 2022. The senators in question are John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah), Thom Tillis (N.C.), John Kennedy (La.), and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.).

Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig stated that there should be bipartisan outrage over the undisclosed gifts and travel provided by Crow to Justice Thomas. However, the silence from Senate Judiciary Republicans might be due to the significant donations they have received from Crow.

The GOP members of the panel have not only refused to join Democratic colleagues in establishing enforceable ethics rules for the Supreme Court, but they have also downplayed the court’s growing crisis of legitimacy. They used last week’s hearing on proposed Supreme Court ethics reforms as an opportunity for political grandstanding and performative outrage.

With mounting evidence of potential connections between Crow’s undisclosed gifts to Thomas and Thomas’ favorable rulings for Crow’s interests, calls for the judge to resign or face impeachment is growing. Crow’s real estate company, Crow Holdings, was directly implicated in a 2021 case before the court, and Thomas’ vote in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case led to an 862% increase in the Crow family’s average annual campaign contributions.

Progressives have called for the implementation of robust ethics rules and other far-reaching changes, such as expanding the Supreme Court, to address the influence of wealthy donors like Crow on the nation’s chief judicial body. Public approval of the Supreme Court has sharply decreased in recent months due to controversial decisions, with nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults lacking confidence in the high court.