Hold Clarence Thomas Accountable - Pass the Supreme Court Ethics Act!
Petition to Congress:
Recent ethics scandals demonstrate that the Supreme Court cannot be trusted to police itself. Congress must pass the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act to restore faith in this out-of-control, corrupt court.
Each year, Clarence Thomas hosts a secretive initiation ritual for his wealthy friends inside the Supreme Court chamber.
It sounds ridiculous, but a bombshell New York Times report just revealed that Justice Thomas performs this ceremony in the main Supreme Court room for an elite society called the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. The Association is largely made up of ultra-rich conservatives and aims “to spread the message [of] America’s free enterprise system.” Thomas has been a member of the group for over three decades, and has accepted undisclosed luxury travel, V.I.P. access to sporting events, and invites to lavish parties from its powerful members.1
The Supreme Court is not bound by any code of conduct. Clearly, Justice Thomas and this right-wing court cannot be trusted to police themselves. Congress must take action now to impose basic ethics standards on this out-of-control, corrupt Supreme Court.
During the Horatio Alger initiation ritual, Justice Thomas hangs special medals around the necks of the Association’s new lifetime members. One businessman called it “the closest thing to being knighted in the United States.” Thomas acts as a kind of ambassador for the group, and its members highly value their close relationship to the Justice.1
Thomas joined the Association shortly after his confirmation to the court in 1991. Since then, the group’s wealthy, right-wing members have lavished him with praise and provided him access to a luxurious lifestyle. Wall Street executive David Sokol, for instance, has hosted Justice Thomas and his wife on elaborate trips to both his Montana ranch and his Florida waterfront mansion.1
Earlier this year, ProPublica revealed Justice Thomas’ cozy relationship with billionaire and right-wing megadonor Harlan Crow. Thomas never disclosed Crow’s costly gifts, and never recused himself when Crow had business before the court.2 Many of Thomas’ Horatio Alger colleagues are similarly major donors to conservative causes with much at stake in Supreme Court decisions. As with Crow, Thomas failed to disclose any of the gifts from his Horatio Alger friends, nor has he recused himself in any cases involving their interests.1
Every single conservative on the Supreme Court has now been implicated in a shocking ethics scandal. The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act would finally require SCOTUS justices to follow an ethics code, strengthen restrictions on judicial gifts and privately funded travel, and overhaul the broken recusal process.3 Congress must start restoring faith in our courts and enact this Supreme Court code of conduct NOW.
- New York Times, “Where Clarence Thomas Entered an Elite Circle and Opened a Door to the Court ,” July 9, 2023.
- ProPublica, “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire,” April 6, 2023.
- NBC, “Senate Democrats announce vote to advance Supreme Court ethics bill,” July 10, 2023.