More undisclosed trips revealed between Harlan Crow, Clarence Thomas 

Supreme Court justice took three other trips on Texas billionaire’s private jet 

Clarence Thomas Failed to Disclose Three Trips From Harlan Crow

From left: Harlan Crow and Justice Clarence Thomas (Getty)

Another layer has been peeled back on the scandal that erupted last year involving Dallas real estate scion Harlan Crow and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who allegedly accepted lavish gifts from the Texas billionaire without disclosing them. 

Thomas did not disclose three trips aboard the private jet of billionaire Crow, the New York Times reported, citing documents obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The trips included a visit to Montana near Glacier National Park in 2017, a visit to his hometown Savannah, Georgia, in 2019 and a trip to Northern California in 2021. The 2019 and 2021 flights were round trips without overnight stays.

This revelation underscores Thomas’ longstanding friendship with Crow, with giftings reportedly dating back to the early 1990s. Justices are generally required to report gifts of $415 or higher. Thomas has maintained that he was advised not to disclose gifts of personal hospitality from friends without cases before the Supreme Court.

The news is likely to intensify the ongoing debate over the need for greater transparency at the Supreme Court. Efforts to subject justices to similar ethics standards as those governing the executive and legislative branches have stalled. Despite the court’s recent introduction of its first ethics code, experts have criticized it for lacking enforcement mechanisms or penalties for violations.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“The highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois and chairman of the committee.

Thomas’ lawyer Eliott Berke defended the trips, contending that they fell under the “personal hospitality exemption” and were not required to be disclosed. This exemption underwent a rule change in March 2023, mandating justices to disclose more activities, including free trips and air travel. Berke asserted that Thomas has complied with the requirements since the rule change.

Read more

Justice Clarence Thomas Admits to Gifts From Harlan Crow
Clarence Thomas admits gifts from Harlan Crow
Harlan Crow and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Harlan Crow lavished Justice Clarence Thomas with gifts
Supreme Court Creates Ethics Code in Wake of Harlan Crow Gifts
Supreme Court adopts ethics code in wake of Harlan Crow gifts

Crow cooperated with the committee’s requests, providing information spanning seven years, Michael Zona, a Crow spokesperson, told the outlet. 

Justice Thomas’ latest financial disclosure report, released last week, includes amendments for 2019 vacations with Crow to Bali, Indonesia, and Bohemian Grove, California. However, no private jet flights or travel from benefactors were reported for 2023. The report lists one gift: photo albums worth $2,000 from Terrence and Barbara Giroux.

—Quinn Donoghue 

Recommended For You