More Revelations Concerning Justice Thomas And Harlan Crow
[guest post by Dana]
A new report reveals that longtime friend of Justice Clarence Thomas and Republican megadonor, Harlan Crow, paid the tuition for Thomas’ grandnephew at two private boarding schools. Crow’s office released this statement:
“Harlan Crow has long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth. It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political.” The statement added that Crow and his wife have “supported many young Americans” at a “variety of schools, including his alma mater.” Crow went to Randolph-Macon Academy.
Thomas reportedly did not disclose the tuition payments as gifts. However, Mark Paoletta, a longtime friend of Thomas and lawyer to his wife, claims that Thomas did not need to report the payments:
Harlan Crow’s tuition payments made directly to these schools on behalf of Justice Thomas’s great nephew did not constitute a reportable gift. Justice Thomas was not required to disclose the tuition payments made directly to Randolph Macon and the Georgia school on behalf of his great nephew because the definition of a “dependent child” under the Ethics in Government Act (5 U.S.C. 13101 (2)) does not include a “great nephew.” It is limited to a “son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.”
Meanwhile, Judge J. Michael Luttig, who was nominated by President George H. W. Bush and is reported to be friends with some conservative members of the court, including Thomas, addressed the issue of Supreme Court ethics in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In part:
The respect in which the Supreme Court is held by the American People is a function of both the respect that the Court’s judgments command and the respect that the Court earns by virtue of the manner in which it comports itself publicly and privately in the course of discharging its solemn judicial duties. It is the Supreme Court’s duty to acquit itself in the discharge of its judicial responsibilities so as to continually assure and reassure the American people that its judgments are
deserving of respect. It is also the duty of each and every man and woman upon whom is conferred the privilege to serve on the Supreme Court to conduct themselves in their non-judicial conduct and activities in such a manner that they are individually deserving of respect — indeed, beyond reproach, not only in fact, but also in appearance. This, at all times and places, in both public and in private.
The continuing obligation of the Supreme Court to ensure faith, respect, and confidence in the Court assumes a continuing need to reexamine itself as faith, respect, and public confidence in the Court ebbs and flows, which public confidence in the Court has historically done and can be expected to do in the future. This continuing obligation to assess itself — to look in the mirror at itself if you will — exists irrespective of whether the ebbs and the flows are believed to be justified by the Court.
The nation should never have reason to question the ethical conduct of the Supreme Court. It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, and of each Justice who serves on the Court, to ensure that there never even be such a question raised.