They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas might disagree, given his recent revelations about some luxe freebies.
In a recent financial statement, Justice Thomas dished out details about his ritzy trips courtesy of conservative billionaire Harlan Crow. These weren’t just run-of-the-mill vacays – they included private jet escapades, fancy meals, and plush accommodations. Specifically, Thomas mentioned three high-flying adventures in 2022, two of which were for speaking gigs in Dallas and the other, a cozy getaway to Crow’s upscale estate in New York.
Thomas tried to justify his first private jet jaunt in 2022 by blaming a surprise ice storm, while the other two flights were supposedly because of safety concerns post the controversial overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, his critics were quick to point out the irony: Thomas has been cozying up in private planes for over a quarter of a century. So, what’s new?
Such opulent gifts would make anyone wonder about the extent to which wealth sways the Supreme Court. But more eyebrow-raising was that Thomas had previously been enjoying these swanky freebies for years, claiming they didn’t warrant a mention.
Earlier this year, ProPublica unveiled how Thomas frequently jetted around with Crow, basking in luxe trips, but never mentioning a word. The expose spurred more discoveries about not-so-squeaky-clean ethics, especially concerning Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito.
Following this exposé, it was shown that Thomas had enjoyed a staggering 38 vacations and 26 private jet rides – all funded by a trio of conservative billionaires, including Crow. The price tag of these extravagant gifts? Probably in the millions.
When caught in the hot seat, Thomas played the “I was told so” card, insisting that such “personal hospitality” didn’t need the limelight. However, critics and ethics specialists begged to differ, recalling how Thomas went silent on Crow’s gifts after a 2004 Los Angeles Times report.
Now, Thomas is playing catch-up, claiming recent “clarifications” from the Judicial Conference prompted his revelations. Yet, many, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, aren’t buying it. Whitehouse emphasized that these “clarifications” aren’t new rules, but a mere reiteration of the old ones.
While Thomas’ recent disclosure hints at transparency, he’s yet to back-pedal and reveal past billionaire-funded travels. He did, however, acknowledge a previously undisclosed real estate transaction involving Crow from 2014.
It’s a wild world where billionaires and justices intersect. As millennials passionate about justice and transparency, it’s essential to question, probe, and demand accountability. Let’s not let those free rides fly without scrutiny.