Thursday, an update to a series of ProPublica articles showed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had taken more gifts from billionaires than was previously uncovered, prompting Democratic senators to renew their demands for Thomas’ resignation.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) remarked on X that Justice Thomas had shamed himself and the Supreme Court by accepting large, frequent, and unannounced gifts. Lieu said that no public servant, elected or otherwise, should accept a gift of such magnitude, suggesting he should step down.
A higher number of billionaire benefactors have gifted Thomas over three dozen destination vacations, over two dozen private jet flights, and VIP passes for multiple sporting events. This comes as the high court continues to see record-low public approval and a Democratic-led effort to impose ethics reforms. According to ProPublica, ethical experts have stated it may be illegal not to record expenses related to travel and sports.
Ethicists argue Thomas broke the law by omitting to record flights, yacht cruises, and pricey sports tickets, but it’s unclear if some of the hospitality, such as stays at private houses, needed to be reported.
Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Bill Pascrell, Hank Johnson, and Gerry Connolly, all Democrats, were among at least four other House Democrats who asked for Thomas’ resignation.
To make the Supreme Court more open to the public, Senate Democrats have proposed legislation to modify the court’s ethics requirements. The measure has made it out of committee but has a slim chance of passing the entire Senate.
After Thursday’s report, the bill’s chief proponent, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse, said on X that he had warned that the situation would continue to worsen.
Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin wrote on X that it is evident that these are more than just ethical breaches. He said many sycophantic millionaires have funded this hedonistic lifestyle for years.
The new ProPublica article expands on the organization’s earlier findings regarding Thomas receiving many gifts from affluent donors without disclosing them. These findings have prompted questions about the Supreme Court’s adherence to ethical standards.
Thomas said in April that he had been advised not to disclose receiving lavish hospitality from individuals who had no business before the court.