More than 100 former law clerks for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas have signed an open letter that stands as a defense of his integrity against media reports suggesting he received inappropriate gifts from a Texas billionaire.
“As his law clerks, we offer this response. Different paths led us to our year with Justice Thomas, and we have followed different paths since. But along the way, we all saw with our own eyes the same thing: His integrity is unimpeachable,” their letter said (pdf).
The letter, endorsed by 112 individuals, includes three circuit court judges, including Judge David Stras of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Judge James Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and Judge Allison Rushing of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and underscores: “His integrity is unimpeachable.” The former clerks come together to assert that these allegations are a part of a broader attempt to undermine the Court’s legitimacy, while stressing that Justice Thomas’ independence remains steadfast.
“And these stories are malicious, perpetuating the ugly assumption that the Justice cannot think for himself. They are part of a larger attack on the Court and its legitimacy as an institution,” the letter also stated. “The picture they paint of the Court and the man for whom we worked bears no resemblance to reality.”
The letter recounts Justice Thomas’ upbringing in Alabama, his initial aspiration to become a priest, and his subsequent shift to a legal career after the assassinations of Kennedy and King. It paints a portrait of him as a man of unwavering principles, open to dissent, and possessing humor, warmth, and generosity.
Regarding media reports alleging improprieties, the letter asserts that these claims are an integral part of a larger assault on the Court itself. It firmly dismisses the notion that his friendships compromise his judgment, insisting that these friends have no involvement in cases before him.
Reports from ProPublica, a left-leaning media outlet, contend that Justice Thomas accepted numerous gifts, potentially violating disclosure rules. The letter rebuts these reports by framing them as components of a systematic campaign against the Court’s credibility.
Congressional Democrats are raising concerns about whether Justice Thomas adhered to ethical standards and have pushed for changes within the Supreme Court. They have called on him to recuse himself from specific cases where the Biden administration is expected to lose. Representative Ted Lieu and four other House Democrats have even gone as far as to call for his resignation.
In response to these allegations, Justice Thomas expressed his commitment to adhere to updated disclosure guidelines. Harlan Crow, a figure in the reports, clarified that discussing Supreme Court cases with Justice Thomas would be inappropriate due to their differing areas of expertise.