Conservatives are criticizing the liberal Supreme Court justices over ethics issues following the series of reports of the ties between Justice Clarence Thomas and a major Republican donor.
Thomas has been the subject of scrutiny in recent weeks following reporting from ProPublica that Harlan Crow, a real estate developer and billionaire who has donated heavily to conservative causes, has paid for luxury trips for the justice for years, bought a property from Thomas and his family and covered tuition at a private school for Thomas’s great-nephew.
Thomas did not disclose any of these on financial disclosure forms, despite federal law requiring justices and other federal officials to disclose certain gifts they receive. He has said he was advised the trips did not need to be reported because they would be considered a “personal hospitality” exception.
But the reports have led to criticism from Democrats over the lack of disclosures and calls for new ethics rules to be put in place for justices on the court.
Congressional Democrats have vowed to pursue new rules for the court, but conservatives have declared their opposition to these efforts and called out what they view as hypocrisy from Democrats who did not denounce gifts and possible conflicts of interests that liberal justices have had.
The Daily Wire, a conservative-leaning news outlet, reported Wednesday a few instances in which Justice Sonia Sotomayor received money from book publisher Penguin Random House for her book but did not recuse herself from cases involving the publisher.
She received $1.2 million in 2010 in advance from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is part of Penguin Random House. Knopf paid her an additional $1.9 million in 2012 in advance of her memoir coming out.
More coverage of Supreme Court ethics from The Hill:
The Daily Wire also reported Sotomayor took part in deciding whether the court would hear a case involving Penguin Random House in 2013, Aaron Greenspan v. Random House. The court ultimately decided against hearing the case, but then-Justice Stephen Breyer, who reportedly had also received money from the publisher, recused himself from the case while Sotomayor did not.
Sotomayor was not the only justice who had a relationship with the publisher and did not recuse themself in a case involving Penguin Random House.
Author Jennie Nicassio requested the court hear a case she had against Penguin Random House and Viacom International in 2019. Penguin Random House also is the publisher of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s book, but only Breyer recused himself when the court decided against hearing the case in February 2020.
Former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also received criticism from Mark Paoletta, who served as counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence and is a friend of Thomas, over an award she received in 2010 from the Women’s National Democratic Club, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that holds events and activities supporting the Democratic Party.
“Here’s Justice Ginsburg accepting award in 2010 from the partisan Woman’s National Democratic Club. I am unaware of any reporting of this at time,” Paoletta tweeted with a photo of Ginsburg receiving the organization’s Eleanor Award.
The award was named for former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and is presented to leaders dedicated to “humanitarian principles.”
“I don’t recall any member of the press at the time or since reporting that Justice Ginsburg was acting ‘politically’ for accepting an award at this event,” Paoletta wrote in an article on the previously undisclosed gift from the organization in January in The National Review.
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