Justice Thomas ally pens scathing WSJ opinion piece detailing ‘errors and deceptions’ in recent report

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Justice Thomas ally pens scathing WSJ opinion piece detailing ‘errors and deceptions’ in recent report

Attorney Mark Paoletta believes a recent Fix the Court report about gifts Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has allegedly received over the years is littered with “errors and deceptions.”

Paoletta, who co-authored the book “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” is a longtime friend of Thomas and worked on his 1991 confirmation. On Sunday, he penned a Wall Street Journal opinion piece headlined, “The ‘Fix’ Is in With the Latest Attack on Clarence Thomas,” that ripped recent claims about Justice Thomas. 

“It’s late in the Supreme Court’s term, which means it’s hunting season for the justices’ detractors. As usual, Clarence Thomas is a prime target. Fix the Court, which styles itself a nonpartisan advocate for ‘non-ideological ‘fixes’’ to make the judiciary ‘more open and more accountable’—released a chart purporting to show that Justice Thomas has received almost $4.2 million in gifts and ‘likely gifts’ between 2004 and 2023,” Paoletta wrote in the Journal. 

“The other 16 justices who served during that period, according to the chart, received a combined total of less than $600,000 in gifts. That includes a mere $3,150 for Justice Anthony Kennedy, $55,014 for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and $15,500 for Justice Stephen Breyer,” Paoletta continued. “Can that be true? No. A review of Fix the Court’s claims shows multiple errors and deceptions.”

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An image of Justice Clarence Thomas and author/attorney Mark Paoletta.  (Mark Paoletta )

Paoletta picked apart the June 6 Fix the Court piece that detailed “gifts” the Supreme Court justices have received over the years.

“It counts as ‘gifts’ Justice Thomas’s trips and vacations with friends that weren’t required to be disclosed. Fix the Court counts annual visits by Justice and Ginni Thomas to the summer home of their longtime friends Harlan and Kathy Crow as a gift valued at $280,950. But no other justice’s visits to close friends’ homes are listed on its chart,” Paoletta wrote. 

“In 2011, 20 Democratic lawmakers filed an ethics complaint regarding Justice Thomas not disclosing his trips with the Crows,” he continued. “In response, the U.S. Judicial Conference, which regulates judges’ financial disclosures, concluded in 2012 that Justice Thomas wasn’t required to report such trips and vacations.”

Paoletta also said the Fix the Court piece used an “inconsistent standard for what constitutes a ‘gift’” to inflate Justice Thomas’s numbers. 

“He traveled to Dallas in 2022 to speak at a civil-rights conference hosted in part by the American Enterprise Institute. Fix the Court counts the plane travel provided by Mr. Crow, an AEI trustee, as a gift valued at $68,333,” Paoletta wrote. “But the group doesn’t count Justice Breyer’s more than 230 trips for events—63 of them outside the U.S.—including the 17 trips the Pritzker family’s Architecture Foundation paid for Justice Breyer to take to London, Paris, Beijing and Copenhagen.”

Paoletta wrote that Justice Kennedy frequently traveled to Europe to teach month-long summer seminars “but none of those trips are on the Fix the Court chart.”

That wasn’t the end of the Paoletta’s issues with Fix the Court, a “nonprofit organization that advocates for non-ideological ‘fixes’ that would make the federal courts, and primarily the U.S. Supreme Court, more open and more accountable to the American people,” according to its website.

“The group counts two high-school scholarships established by the Horatio Alger Association in Justice Thomas’s son’s name as a $35,000 gift to Justice Thomas, even though none of the money went to him or any family member. But it doesn’t count as a gift the $1 million prize the Berggruen Institute awarded Ginsburg in 2019, which she distributed to her favored charities,” Paoletta wrote. 

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Mark Paoletta, Clarence Thomas laugh

Mark Paoletta, who co-authored “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in his own words,” is a longtime friend of Justice Thomas and worked on his 1991 confirmation.  (Mark Paoletta)

“It uses wildly inflated values for the ‘gifts’ to Justice Thomas. Most shocking, Fix the Court values the 2019 vacation Justice Thomas and his wife took to Indonesia with the Crows—which, again, wasn’t even subject to disclosure as a gift—at $500,000,” he continued. “That estimate is based on the assumption that Justice Thomas would have chartered Mr. Crow’s yacht and plane for himself. In reality he was a guest of the Crows, along with 14 other passengers, including my wife and me. Even under its own methodology, the group has dishonestly inflated the value of this trip by not factoring in the other passengers.”

Paoletta added that “even under its own methodology, the group has dishonestly inflated the value of this trip by not factoring in the other passengers.” He also said Fix the Court inflated ticket prices to sporting events. 

“The Thomases attended a University of Nebraska football game with friends (my wife and I were there) and sat in a suite where the price of the ticket, as confirmed by the University Athletic Office, was $65—well below the $415 reporting threshold. The group values these tickets at $989,” Paoletta wrote. 

“Fix the Court imputes 101 ‘likely but not confirmed gifts’ worth nearly $1.8 million to Justice Thomas in 2004-23 but identifies no ‘likely gifts’ for any other justice,” he added. 

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is regularly criticized by ProPublica. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Paoletta noted that much of the information used by Fix the Court “is drawn from another Thomas antagonist, ProPublica.” Paoletta has long criticized ProPublica’s coverage of Justice Thomas, and has slammed the nonprofit newsroom’s past reporting as “offensive,” “racist,” “absurd,” and “false.” 

Fix the Court stood by its reporting when reached for comment, but noted that the piece has been updated with methodology because the initial version was “a bit jargony.” 

“Once again, Justice Thomas’ political and media allies have attacked our nonpartisan judicial transparency organization for reporting incontrovertible facts about Thomas’ decades-long pattern of failing to disclose reportable gifts,” Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth told Fox News Digital.

“Ever since ProPublica published its Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation last April, partisan operatives have been using the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages to defend this plainly unethical, and in some cases illegal, conduct,” Roth continued. “Fix the Court stands by its report, and we won’t be deterred by bad-faith attempts to excuse unethical behavior by public servants.”

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ProPublica also defended its reporting. 

“ProPublica exposes abuses of power no matter which party is in charge and our newsroom operates with fierce independence. The fact that Clarence Thomas amended his past filings to formally disclose trips that were paid for by billionaire Harlan Crow speaks for itself,” a ProPublica spokesperson told Fox News Digital. 

“We stand by our reporting about Thomas’ Bahamas trip,” the spokesperson added. “After our August 2023 story was published, we updated it to reflect new information: Paul ‘Tony’ Novelly’s attorney issued a statement to Congress denying the trip.”

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