US Supreme Court justice dismisses lavish gifts reports as lies

WASHINGTON: US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has found himself under scrutiny over his judicial decisions and accepting lavish gifts from a billionaire Republican, is dismissing the criticism as “nastiness” and “lies,” according to US media.
“There’s certainly been a lot of negativity in our lives, my wife and I, over the last few years, but we choose not to focus on it,” the New York Times quoted Thomas as saying Friday at a judicial conference in the southern US state of Alabama.
Staunch conservative Thomas, the longest-serving justice on the court, has been embroiled in controversy since it emerged last year that he had gone on a trip paid for by Republican donor and real estate tycoon Harlan Crow.
The justice has also faced calls to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election because of his wife’s involvement with efforts to block Joe Biden’s victory.
“What you are going to find, especially in Washington, is that people are going to pride themselves on being awful,” Thomas said, according to the Washington Post. “It’s a hideous place.”
Thomas stressed that he and his wife try to ignore their critics and focus on the positive.
“You don’t get to prevent people from doing horrible things or saying horrible things,” the justice was quoted as saying by the Times. “But one, you have to understand and accept the fact that they don’t, they can’t change you unless you permit that.”
According to a ProPublica investigation published last year, 75-year-old Thomas went on one trip to Indonesia paid for by Crow that alone was likely worth $500,000.
He also joined Crow — whose friendship with the justice the New York Times in 2011 called “unusual and ethically sensitive” — for trips to an exclusive all-male wilderness resort in California and to properties in Texas and New York state over the past two decades.
Crow told ProPublica that his gifts to Thomas were “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends,” and that the two had never discussed pending cases.
Thomas, who was nominated for the court in 1991 after a confirmation process in which he was accused of sexual harassment by a former aide, joined the majority of judges who ruled to overturn the national right to abortion last year.
He went further than his colleagues, saying the conservative-dominated court should also examine its rulings on contraception and same-sex marriage.


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