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Justice Thomas’ Friendship with Conservative Benefactor Raises Ethics Issues

Publication Date: 
June 20, 2011
Source: 
ABA Journal
Author: 
Debra Cassens Weiss

A comment made by Professor Deborah Rhode to the New York Times on whether Justice Clarence Thomas should be involved in fund-raising activities is used in this ABA Journal article.

Justice Clarence Thomas has been friends with Dallas real estate magnate Harlan Crow since the mid-1990s, after Thomas joined the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since then, Crow, a Republican campaign donor, has bankrolled several projects that relate to the justice, the New York Times reports. Crow paid $175,000 to help finance a library project dedicated to Thomas. He paid $500,000 for Thomas’ wife, Virginia, to start a conservative group. And he paid to restore a cannery in Thomas’ hometown of Pin Point, Ga., that included a museum about the history of the town.

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The Times interviewed two ethics experts, who differed on the propriety of the museum project. Stanford law professor Deborah Rhode said Thomas should not be directly involved in fund-raising activities, no matter how worthy.