Thursday, June 20, 2024

House Democrats demand Justice Clarence Thomas to resign over ethics concern

House Democrats are demanding that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas resign immediately following questions about potential ethical violations.

During a recent press conference, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-GA, said the long-serving justice should renounce his post “to protect what little is left of public trust and respect for the United States Supreme Court.”

Congressman Hank Johnson, D-GA, delivers remarks at a press conference on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 to demand Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas resign. Credit: Ashlee Banks

Congressman Johnson said he is “deeply disappointed and angered” by the recent revelations from investigative reports by ProPublica and The Washington Post. Justice Thomas, he bemoaned, “has been using his position as a Supreme Court justice to live like an out-of-control billionaire baller.”

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-IL, joined Wednesday’s press conference and told reporters that Thomas is “ethically incompetent.”

“It’s time for Clarence Thomas to resign because his ethics violations and conflicts of interest do not uphold the Constitution,” said Garcia. “We have a judicial system that lets off the wealthy and the well-connected and punishes poor and vulnerable people.”

On April 6, ProPublica published a report that alleged the conservative justice accepted lavish gifts from GOP donor and billionaire Harlan Crow that included taking luxury trips, sailing on Crow’s yacht, and securing a donation of $105,000 to the justice’s portrait fund at Yale Law School, as theGrio previously reported.

For nearly three decades, Thomas failed to disclose the gifts he received from the Dallas businessman, which violates a post-Watergate disclosure law that requires justices to report certain gifts.

This week, Thomas announced that he would amend his financial statements to reflect a 2014 real estate deal he made with Crow that included Crow allegedly purchasing Thomas’ mother’s home and permitting her to live there rent-free.

According to CNN, a source close to the matter revealed that the justice was unaware that he had to disclose the deal because he did not make a profit.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas joins other members of the Supreme Court as they pose for a new group portrait, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“It’s not enough to amend and try to hide your corruption. It’s too late for that,” Johnson said while speaking at this week’s press conference.

He continued, “Justice Thomas has been brazenly corrupted and compromised by Republican dark-monied megadonor Harlan Crow. Even though the law clearly required him to disclose these real estate deals, Justice Thomas hid them.”

On Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, invited Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to testify before a panel on May 2 to discuss how the court should handle ethical issues.

Durbin and other Democrats on the committee sent a letter to Roberts, telling him he has “a role to play” by investigating “how such conduct could take place at the Court under [his] watch, and in ensuring that such conduct does not happen again.”

“We urge you to immediately open such an investigation and take all needed action to prevent further misconduct,” the letter stated.

At this time, the Supreme Court does not adhere to a code of ethics, and, in recent years, organizations have asked the court to adopt one to preserve its integrity, as theGrio previously reported.

Sarah Turberville, director of the Constitution Project at POGO, told theGrio that the public is losing trust in the court.

“[The Justices] are blind to the fact that the public’s faith in the institution is waning, and the public’s faith is the only thing that gives the court’s ruling any force,” she said.

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-IL, delivers remarks at a press conference on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 to demand Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas resign. Credit: Ashlee Banks

If Thomas resigns, he would be only the second justice to do so.

According to Politico, in 1969, Justice Abe Fortas stepped down after he struck a deal with the family foundation of Louis Wolfson, a Wall Street financier, to give unspecified advice in exchange for an annual payment of $20,000. However, when Fortas disclosed the hefty retainer, he was forced to step down or face impeachment.

Rep. Garcia told reporters that Thomas’ resignation is “far from radical” and that doing so is “a necessary first step in bringing a kind of trust in the highest court.”

He added, “The nine most powerful jurists in the country” need to be “bound to the same ethical standard as every other judge.”

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