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Justice Thomas Reports Income from Defunct Real-Estate Firm
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Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that he had listed hundreds of thousands of dollars in household income from a Nebraska real-estate firm on his financial disclosure forms over the last two decades, even after the firm closed in 2006.

The real-estate firm in question is Ginger Ltd. Partnership, initially listed as a partnership between Ginni Thomas, Justice Thomas’ wife, and her parents and three siblings. The company owned and leased residential lots in two developments outside of Omaha.

In 2006, the Ginger Ltd. Partnership disbanded, and its residential lots were transferred to a new company, Ginger Holdings LLC. According to the Washington Post, the new company’s business address did not change from the old one, but state incorporation records for Ginger Holdings do not mention Ginni Thomas.

  
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While this misstatement could be seen as a mere paperwork error, it is one of many errors and omissions that Justice Thomas has made on required annual financial disclosure forms over the past several decades. This has raised questions about how seriously Justice Thomas takes his responsibility to accurately report details about his finances to the public.

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In addition to the Ginger Ltd. Partnership issue, Justice Thomas has faced other financial disclosure problems. For example, in April of 2021, ProPublica reported that Justice Thomas was treated to vacations, private jet flights, and yacht cruises by GOP megadonor and billionaire Harlan Crow but failed to report the trips. Ethics experts have said that the failure to disclose the jet flights may have violated a Watergate-era law on gift disclosures.

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In another instance, ProPublica reported that Justice Thomas did not disclose that a company owned by Harlan Crow bought a home and two vacant lots from Thomas in 2014. Thomas’ mother continued to live in the home, and experts have said that Justice Thomas’ failure to disclose the sale violates a federal disclosure law that applies to justices and other officials.

Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to upholding democratic values, alleged in 2011 that Justice Thomas failed to report more than $686,000 in income his wife earned while working for the conservative Heritage Foundation. At the time, Justice Thomas said the information was “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”



Justice Thomas recently amended his disclosure form in 2020 after failing to report reimbursements for travel costs to teach at two law schools. He did, however, disclose the teaching income. The group Fix the Court flagged the issue. (Justice Sonia Sotomayor also failed to disclose reimbursements for a commencement speech, Fix the Court said.)

The issue of financial disclosure is serious for Supreme Court justices, as they are subject to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires them to file annual financial disclosure reports. The purpose of these reports is to provide transparency and accountability to the public, as well as to prevent conflicts of interest.

Some legal experts have criticized Justice Thomas for his lax attitude toward financial disclosure. For example, the University of California, Irvine law professor Richard Hasen said, “There is a sense that Justice Thomas does not take his financial disclosure obligations as seriously as he should.”

Justice Thomas and his wife have not responded to requests for comment on the Ginger Ltd. Partnership issue or any other financial disclosure problems that Justice Thomas has faced over the years.

Overall, the financial disclosure issue is important for Supreme Court justices, as it helps maintain the integrity and impartiality of the Court. Justice Thomas’ past failures to accurately report his finances raise questions about his commitment to transparency and accountability and may damage the public’s trust in the Supreme Court as an institution.



 

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