The ethics of the justices of the American Supreme Court are beyond reproach – unless, of course, you offer them a very pleasant trip.
Calls for Judge Clarence Thomas to be investigated or impeached have emerged after investigative website ProPublica released information that for decades he has taken luxury trips almost every year paid for by billionaire Harlan Crow — trips he has never reported, according to provides for the law.
The problem is that Crow, who owns a real estate empire, is one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party.
Through interviews, internal documents and flight logs, investigative journalism website ProPublica found that these trips included private jet flights, luxury yacht tours around the planet, exclusive chef-prepared meals and stays at Crow’s stunning private resort. .
The value of some of these trips was estimated at over US$500,000 (about R$2.45 million). Were they given to the judge in exchange for favors, like when my wife took us on a trip to, well, a motel so I would finally let her get a puppy? (Who now, sleeping in our bed, vetoes any kind of motel-like activity.) Or are the tycoon and the judge just like-minded people who share together the benefits that conservatives happen to bestow on the rich and powerful?
Who regulates the Supreme Court? Well, they are their own judges. Does that mean that every time Thomas gets a little treat, he gives something else in return? Based on my habits, by now he should have a house full of puppies.
Rules dictate that judges must notify the Court when they receive gifts worth more than $415. Law experts (and middle school math students) say many of the holiday items amount to gifts.
The tenure of US Supreme Court Justices is for life — which I’m not sure is an honor or a great danger. Anyway, the justification for this is that they would be protected from external influences.
In addition to the issue of legality, there is the effect the episode could have on public trust. According to a Gallup poll, even before this scandal, the Supreme Court approval rating was at 40%, the lowest in history. His disapproval rating, in turn, peaked at 58%.
The most worrying thing is: what happened to the other 2%? They are well? Were they murdered? Was it Crow?!?!
Crow and Thomas defend themselves against the accusations by saying they are longtime friends. Their friendship is evidenced by a painting on the wall of Crow’s private resort that shows the two smoking cigars with influential conservative figures like “Leonard Leo”—seen as responsible for orchestrating the Supreme Court’s recent swing to the right. A picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, chances are those words are just a long list of dollar signs.
Many of the trips were attended by executives and conservative activists. Speaking of which, Crow donated $500,000 (approximately R$2.45 million) to an activism group founded by Thomas’ wife, Ginni, in which she holds a position with a salary of US$120,000 (R$590 million). thousand).
The controversy also exacerbates fears that Ginni was involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election result but has not been held accountable for her actions. And the fact that this did not lead to Thomas abstaining from voting in election-related cases involving Ginni—despite the blatant conflict of interest involved.
Thomas’ supporters say the ethical standard by which judges are held should speak for itself. It already happens. For example, the last three Conservative judges to be appointed swore under oath when being questioned for office that they respected the country’s abortion rights precedent. Once appointed, they went back and overthrew them.
Since the majority of the US population thinks abortion should be completely legal, these judges obviously didn’t speak candidly about the issue lest public opinion dampen their hopes of being nominated.
With the country’s trust in the Supreme Court at risk, there are few options left to effect any lasting change. They are: creating an even more supreme court to oversee the Supreme Court, and then a super ultra mega court to oversee the previous one; impeach Clarence Thomas; or finally befriend Harlan Crow.
Translated by Clara Allain
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