Funding of Hometown Museum Raises Ethics Questions for Justice Thomas


The New York Times reports that some are questioning the ethics of a close financial relationship between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Dallas real estate magnate Harlan Crow. Crow is financing a museum in Thomas’ hometown of Pin Point, Ga. He helped finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Thomas, and he reportedly providing $500,000 for Virginia Thomas, the justice’s wife, to start a Tea Party-related group.

The Times says the Pin Point museum project, Crow's largest act of generosity, raises the sharpest questions yet — both about Thomas' extrajudicial activities and about the extent to which the justices should remain exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges. Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said they adhere to it. The code says judges “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors, out of concern that donors might feel pressured to give or entitled to favorable treatment from the judge. In addition, judges are not even supposed to know who donates to projects honoring them.

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