Fix the Court’s Gabe Roth released this statement in response to ProPublica’s story on Justice Thomas’ lavish and free travel:
“The astounding reporting from ProPublica leads to a conclusion we’ve all come to expect: the Supreme Court is the least accountable part of our government, and nothing is going to change without a wholesale, lawmaker-led reimagining of its responsibilities when it comes to basic measures of oversight.
“It’s clear that the personal hospitality rules the judiciary adopted last month do not go far enough: the Supreme Court and lower courts need the same, if not stricter, gift and travel rules than what members of Congress have.
That means a judicial ethics office to pre-approve sponsored trips, no matter who — even a ‘friend’ — is footing the bill, and judges and justices should be required to file a report within 30 days of their return listing the names of other guests and the dollar amounts for every mode of transportation taken, plus lodging and meals. (Here’s an example of a congressional travel report.)
“Remember, if a judge or justice took a flight on a private plane today, the public would not learn about it until their 2023 disclosure comes out, which would be mid-June 2024 at the earliest (assuming the jurist even reported it). Such an unnecessary delay makes real oversight impossible.
“Finally, as a way to demonstrate he takes transparency seriously, Justice Thomas should update his annual disclosures noting each time he took a free trip on a private plane.”