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SCOTUS Justices Thomas, Alito file 2022 financial disclosure forms with new trips and gifts

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, talks to Chief Justice John Roberts during the formal group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 2022.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, talks to Chief Justice John Roberts during the formal group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 2022.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been the subject of scrutiny over vacations and other gifts he received from conservative billionaire Harlan Crow, reported additional trips paid for by Crow in 2022 in newly released financial disclosure forms.

Here's what's new in the disclosure:

  1. Thomas had gone to Dallas in February 2022 to be the keynote speaker at a talk sponsored by three conservative organizations, but flew back on Crow's private jet "due to an unexpected ice storm."

  2. The talk was rescheduled for May, and Thomas took a roundtrip on Crow's private jet "because of increased security risk following the Dobbs opinion leak," which overturned Roe v. Wade.

  3. In July, Thomas traveled to Crow's resort in the Adirondacks for vacation.

  4. Thomas also said he "inadvertently omitted" information in previous disclosure reports, including a life insurance policy for his wife worth $100,000, and a bank account that had less than $70,000 in 2018.

  5. Thomas also offered details of a real estate deal involving Crow and members of Thomas and his family. Crow paid $133,000 for three homes in Georgia, including one where Thomas's mother lives. The justice "and his wife had put between $50,000 to $75,000 into his mother's home in capital improvements over the years, and therefore, the transaction amounted to a capital loss."

    It said Thomas had been advised by committee staff to remove the properties from his disclosure forms because they "no longer generated any rental income." But he "inadvertently failed to realize that the 'sales transaction' for the final disposition of the three properties triggered a new reportable transaction in 2014, even though this sale resulted in a capital loss," the disclosure said.

Separately, Justice Samuel Alito also released his 2022 disclosure form Thursday. In it, he said he traveled to Rome in in 2022 to give a speech at the Religious Liberty Summit. Notre Dame Law School's Religious Liberty Initiative paid for the trip, including Alito's transportation, lodging and meals. Alito noted that he was paid $9,000 to teach at Regent University School of Law and $20,250 to teach at Duke Law School.

The disclosure follows scrutiny of Supreme Court justices and their ethics filings. ProPublica reported this year that for probably two decades Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas, went on lavish trips around the globe paid for by Crow — and that Crow paid the private school tuition for Thomas' grandnephew and bought properties owned by Thomas and his family.

Thomas never disclosed any of this, as he was required to do under the disclosure provisions of the federal Ethics in Government Act, which applies to all federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. ProPublica also reported that Alito failed to disclose that he had enjoyed an all-expenses-paid, high-end fishing trip to Alaska, complete with private jet travel, courtesy of hedge fund titan Paul Singer, a major Republican donor who has been involved in 10 appeals to the Supreme Court.

In a statement accompanying Thursday's disclosure, a lawyer for Thomas said there had been "no willful ethics transgressions" and called prior reporting errors "strictly inadvertent." The statement also criticized what it described as a "partisan freeing frenzy," calling it "political blood sport."

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