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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Follow-up on Justice Thomas's Misclassification of His Crow-Financed Vacation

My new essay on Slate explains why Justice Thomas’s misclassification of his Harlan Crow-financed vacation, which enabled him to withhold its value on his disclosure report, is unlike earlier travel misclassifications by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer.

Here is the gist:

Clarence Thomas’ Defenders Say He’s Just Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg: They’re wrong.

By Steven Lubet

Sept 12, 2023

The classifications make a serious difference. Gift disclosures must provide values; reimbursements need not. Thus, Thomas’ choice of categories, which defies the plain meaning of the two words, effectively concealed the value of his vacation at Crow’s private resort.

Everyone can make mistakes on forms, of course, evidently including Ginsburg and Breyer. In contrast, however, Thomas’ misclassification was admittedly intentional. He announced on April 7, 2023, one day after the first revelations by Propublica, that he was planning to begin disclosing his Crow-financed trips, and he had from then until Aug. 9, when he actually submitted his report, to decide how to do it. (The report was released to the public on Aug. 31.)

As Thomas’ explanatory note conceded, he considered listing his Adirondack vacation as a gift, but purposely chose to call it a reimbursement, which consequently enabled him to withhold its value.

That wasn’t a misinterpretation of the instructions, and it wasn’t an inadvertent slip-up, as Thomas has claimed for other nondisclosures. It was the deliberate omission of information that the public has a right to know.

You can read the entire piece at Slate.

Posted by Steve Lubet on September 13, 2023 at 09:45 AM | Permalink


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