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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Clarence Thomas's Flimsy Excuses

My new column on Clarence Thomas’s flimsy excuses is up at CNN.com.

Here are the opening paragraphs (all that CNN will allow me to post). There is much more detail in the essay:

Clarence Thomas Is Running out of Excuses

May 10, 2023

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has had to explain decades of omissions on his annual financial reports. The most recent revelation, as reported by ProPublica, is that Thomas did not mention Republican donor Harlan Crow’s private school tuition payments for the justice’s grandnephew, whom the justice and his wife, Virginia Thomas, were raising “as a son.” That was a direct financial benefit to the Thomases, but it appeared nowhere on the justice’s disclosure statements mandated by the Ethics in Government Act.

The discovery is just the latest to cast a pall on Thomas for providing flimsy excuses for failing to make disclosures on these reports. As a Supreme Court justice, Thomas routinely interprets complex statutes that affect millions of Americans, priding himself on close adherence to the text. It beggars belief that he could repeatedly misinterpret plain statutory requirements and simple instructions on his annual disclosure reports.

You can read the full column at CNN.com.

Comments are open (subject to review).

Posted by Steve Lubet on May 10, 2023 at 08:03 AM | Permalink


"Short of impeachment, the only corrective for a justice’s questionable conduct is public criticism."

Part of the discussion about a binding ethics regime goes to the "corrective."

One option: "U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today introduced bipartisan legislation requiring the Supreme Court to create its own code of conduct, and appoint an official to review potential conflicts and public complaints."


I would likely go further (including some referral option to Congress or the Justice Department if a law might have been broken) but it is a helpful addition to the conversation with the usual useful "bipartisan" selling point.

I'm past the point where I trust SCOTUS itself to self-regulate (an institution that declares co-equal branch's actions unconstitutional should understand checks and balances) myself but still it's a start.

Posted by: Joe | May 10, 2023 2:06:57 PM

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