Headline RoundupAugust 31st, 2023

Clarence Thomas Defends Billionaire Gifts in Financial Disclosure

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito released their 2022 financial disclosures on Thursday, in which they addressed recent ethics complaints.

The Details: Along with other disclosures, Thomas said billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow paid for two private jet trips for him in 2022, one of which he said was necessary because of heightened security following the Roe v. Wade decision leak. A letter from Thomas’ attorney, which Bloomberg Law (Not Rated) called “highly unusual,” criticized recent ethics complaints as “political blood sport.” Democratic lawmakers have called for stronger Supreme Court ethics rules since ProPublica (Lean Left bias) reported on Thomas’ past dealings with Crow. 

Coverage from the Left: Several articles from left-rated sources framed Thomas’ dealings with Crow as likely unethical. Coverage often described Crow’s gifts as “lavish” or “luxurious,” undercutting Thomas’ argument that they were innocent or necessary for security. Insider (Lean Left bias) noted the “obvious ethical concerns of a Supreme Court justice doing business with a billionaire” and suggested that Thomas wanted his mother, whose house Crow purchased, to live in a “blighted neighborhood full of junkies.”

Coverage from the Right: Right-rated sources often framed Thomas as innocent. Fox News (Right bias) said Thomas had faced a “barrage of ethics attacks” and noted early in its article that Thomas’ “defenders” had “argued that he has followed the court's reporting guidelines.” National Review (Right bias) attributed ethics concerns to “the mainstream media and left-wing groups,” thus potentially framing them as politically motivated.

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