A group of House Democrats alleging that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated ethics rules by failing to report his wife’s income called for a federal investigation into the matter today.
The group of 20 House Democrats led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the U.S. Judicial Conference, the governing body for federal courts, saying that Thomas has failed to report the income of his wife, Virginia, who earned $700,000 from 2003 to 2007 while working at the Heritage Foundation, according to news reports.
The letter came just days before the Supreme Court returns for the new session, during which it is expected to consider a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s sweeping health care law. With such high-profile issues on the horizon for the court, the lawmakers wrote, “it is vital that the Judicial Conference actively pursue any suspicious actions by Supreme Court Justices.”
“Justice Thomas’s failure to disclose his wife’s income for his entire tenure on the federal bench and indications that he may have failed to file additional disclosure regarding his travels require the Judicial Conference to refer this matter to the Department of Justice,” the group wrote in a letter to the secretary of the Judicial Conference.
The lawmakers also suggest the issue should be taken up by Attorney General Eric Holder if the Judicial Conference determines that Thomas purposely failed to report his income and that of his wife. In its letter, the group cites a New York Times report that Thomas “benefited from use of a private yacht and airplane” owned by Texas real estate tycoon Harlan Crow but “failed to disclose this travel as a gift or travel reimbursement on his federal disclosure forms.”
In a statement, Slaughter said, “The Attorney General would be the appropriate person to investigate the issue of non-disclosure, and that is why my colleagues and I are making this request today.
“I cannot determine guilt or innocence, but I can request that the government do our due diligence in investigating a situation that strikes me, and many other Members of Congress, as suspicious,” the New York Democrat added.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.