A lawyer for big Republican donor Harlan Crow told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin that his committee had no authority to “investigate Mr. Crow’s personal friendship with Judge Clarence Thomas,” letter CNN obtained it Monday night.
Crowe declined to answer specific questions from Durbin and other Democrats on the committee, the letter said.
The committee “has not established a valid legislative purpose for its investigation, nor does it have the authority to conduct an ethics investigation of Supreme Court justices,” Crowe’s attorney, Michael Pope, wrote in the letter.
Durbin issued a statement Tuesday slamming Crowe for his response and for not directly answering the senator’s question.
“Harlan Crowe believes that the secrecy of his generous donation to Justice Thomas is more important than the reputation of the Supreme Court in this land,” Durbin said. “He was wrong.”
Crow’s lawyers also claimed that “the committee’s investigation is part of a larger campaign to target and intimidate Justice Thomas and to unearth details that the committee clearly believes would embarrass the justice’s personal life.”
Since ProPublica published a series of reports detailing the luxury travel and other lavish gifts Thomas received from Crowe, and Crowe’s purchase from Thomas and his family of the house the judge’s mother still lives in, Crowe and Thomas relationship has been receiving attention.Real estate transactions and most hospitality are not reported in Thomas’ annual financial disclosure, as is Crow’s Report paid tuition for one of Thomas’ grandnephews
Thomas defended the omission of the Crow-funded trip from his report, and issued a statement saying the judge was told at the time that he did not need to report the entertainment. A source close to Thomas previously told CNN He plans to amend his disclosures to reflect real estate transactions.
In his letter, Bopp rejected Democrats’ claims that they were considering new ethics rules for the Supreme Court.
“The committee’s stated purpose of developing a new ethics code for the Supreme Court is inconsistent with its conduct and the circumstances of its investigation, all of which point to the committee’s idiosyncratic and unwarranted condemnation of Justice Thomas,” Crowe’s attorneys wrote.
“Congress has no constitutional authority to impose moral rules and standards on the Supreme Court,” Bopp wrote, adding that “to do so would exceed Congress’ Article I powers and violate the fundamental principle of separation of powers.”
Durbin said in a statement: “Mr. Crow’s letter relies on the separation of powers defense when Mr. Crow does not work for the Supreme Court and has never served for the Supreme Court.
Crow’s legal team had previously sent a similar letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden, who had sought clarification from Crow about whether the lavish travel and entertainment he provided Thomas was tax-compliant. information.
In contacts with the Texas billionaire earlier this month, the Democratic Judiciary Committee asked Crowe for information on gifts and payments of more than $415 to Supreme Court justices or family members, as well as a detailed list of real estate transactions and travel.
The senator’s investigation also includes separate letters to the holding company that owns Crowe’s private jet, private yacht and his Adirondack mountain resort, Topridge Camp, in which Democrats “try to find out what Mr. Crowe and the company gifted to Judge Thomas.” Gift” ”
“Extraordinary access to justices—not available to all Americans—corrodes the court’s legitimacy because, at the very least, it creates the appearance of undue influence and undermines public trust in the court’s impartiality,” Democratic letter explain.
That same week, Krause declined to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee The Atlantic published an interview With The Crow, in which the crow argues that their relationship does not cross moral lines.