Thomas and Alito delay financial disclosure reports

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have delayed filing annual financial disclosure forms as the Supreme Court faces unprecedented scrutiny of ethics issues.

Legally mandated reports for seven of the current justices were released on Wednesday, while those for Thomas and Alito remained unpublished after receiving extensions, a court spokesperson said. Judges are allowed a 90-day extension to file the forms. This is the fourth year in a row that Alito has been granted an extension.

The release of most of the annual disclosures came as the high court picked up on reports of largely undisclosed luxury vacations Thomas has taken in recent years to remote locations on a private plane and a yacht owned by a developer. Texas real estate, Harlan Crow. Senate Democrats are studying Thomas’ relationship with Crow as part of a review of possible court reform legislation.

Critics say Thomas’ acceptance of a lavish vacation from Crow highlights the laxity of the judges’ ethics regime, but Thomas’s defenders note that when similar complaints were filed a decade ago about his relationship with Crow, a judicial committee found no willful omissions on his part. and seemed to bless his position that travel amounted to “personal hospitality” that needed no disclosure.

Spokespersons for the Supreme Court and the office that handles disclosures for federal justice offered no immediate explanation or documentation explaining the delay in Thomas and Alito’s reporting, beyond noting that an extension was granted. granted.

Disclosures submitted by the other seven judges revealed outside income from teaching and book deals, as well as reimbursements for international travel. The documents were posted on the Judiciary’s website (registration required) and were also publicly released by advocacy group Fix the Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts noted a change from previous years’ disclosures in how he reported income earned by his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, who is a legal recruiter. The Chief Justice’s new disclosure said his wife received a base salary and commission from recruiting firm Macrae in 2022. Previous filings had only disclosed a salary from the company, and the new report from Roberts said his income had been “clarified from the previous year.” reports.”

The clarification came after a former colleague of Jane Roberts complained to Congress that the Chief Justice failed to adequately report his wife’s work, which involved officials whose agencies had cases before the Court. supreme and seeking lucrative jobs in the private sector.

The former colleague’s complaints included a list of alleged commissions from Jane Roberts, some of which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, it was unclear whether these sums were her own earnings or the total related billings of the company she worked for at the time.

The Chief Justice’s report also noted that previous filings had been amended to include a stake in Macrae, where Jane Roberts is a partner. The 2022 filing said the asset was worth between $100,001 and $250,000 – although she received no income from it – and had been “inadvertently omitted” from previous reports.

The newest member of the High Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, has received an Oprah Winfrey flower arrangement worth $1,200 and a designer dress and jacket worth over $6,500 as part of a photo shoot for Vogue Magazine. She also reported expert witness fees for her husband, a surgeon, although she did not reveal their source.

Several judges reported reimbursement for trips abroad, often to favored vacation spots, although travel expenses were not provided.

Judge Neil Gorsuch reported a two-week stint in Padua, Italy last July as part of a program sponsored by the National Security Institute at George Mason University.

Rome was a popular destination for travel by members of the court at the expense of educational and other institutions. Judge Brett Kavanaugh reported a four-day trip there last September to attend a conference of foreign and American judges organized by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame. And Judge Amy Coney Barrett noted that she took a six-day trip there for a conference hosted by the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Although Alito’s report is yet to be published, he also attended a Our Lady-sponsored conference in Rome last July, making headlines to mock foreign leaders who criticized his reversal of opinion. . Roe vs. Wade weeks earlier.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor revealed a six-day trip to Edinburgh, Scotland last July paid for by New York University to attend a conference for leaders in the legal field. She said she had “extended my stay at my own expense for a private holiday in Scotland”.

Sotomayor also reported more than $132,000 in royalties and options income related to her books and revealed that some groups who had invited her to speak had also purchased copies of her books.

Judge Stephen Breyer, who left the court last June but is still a retired judge, said he was given an “overview” of France and Switzerland as part of his role on the jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Some changes this year were incremental, perhaps ornamental. Kagan clarified an ambiguity in previous reports about real estate she owns in Washington, DC. The small property, which she estimated to be worth between $15,000 and $50,000, is a parking space that she rents out for between $2,500 and $5,000 a year.

Barrett’s latest report contains the name of the law firm where her husband is a partner, SouthBank Legal. It was removed from the public version of its report for 2021, even though the company’s website highlights Jesse Barrett and publicly announced the opening of an office in Washington that year, about a year later. that his wife was sworn in as a judge.

However, Barrett has redacted the names of the schools she owes tuition to, presumably for two or more of her seven children.

Under federal law, judges and judges can request that certain personal and family information not be disclosed in publicly available financial disclosure reports.

And under a law passed by Congress last year and signed by President Joe Biden, judges and justices can take action to force websites to remove details about spouse, children, homes , cars and the employment of a judge. Lawmakers said the measure was necessary to repel attacks on judges and their families, a threat highlighted by the shooting death of Judge Esther Salas’ son and the wounding of her husband in an attack on their home of New Jersey in 2020.

Legal experts have questioned the law’s constitutionality, noting the frequency of legitimate debates about judges’ potential conflicts of interest. Under pressure from First Amendment supporters, Congress added an exemption for bona fide press accounts before sending the bill to Biden.

Leave a Comment