Clarence Thomas Impeachment: Everything We Know

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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is seeking to impeach U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for their “pattern of refusal to recuse from consequential matters before the court.”

It has attracted a lot of media attention but is almost certain to fail. Here are some of the key questions:

Does It Have Democratic Party Support?

Yes. Seven other House Democrats also signed the articles of impeachment and many others have voiced their support.

Why Not the Senate?

The U.S. Constitution provides that the House of Representatives ”shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that all civil officers of the United States ”shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito attend a private ceremony for the late Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on December 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. Democrats are seeking to impeach…

Jacquelyn Martin/Getty Images

What Are the Allegations Against Clarence Thomas?

The impeachment articles for Clarence Thomas are 15 pages long and cover a wide range of behavior, from taking gifts from his billionaire friend, Harlan Crow, to giving behind-the-scenes advice to Donald Trump on how to get elected.

The articles cite Thomas for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional standard for impeachment.

What Gifts Is Thomas Accused of Taking?

According to the resolution that backs the articles of impeachment, “over the course of at least 15 years, Justice Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, have received gifts of significant value from conservative billionaire Harlan Crow without reporting the source, description, and value of such gifts.”

Why Is Harlan Crow So Generous?

Crow has served on the board of directors of the American Enterprise Institute, which regularly files amicus “friends of the court” briefs in Supreme Court cases. The impeachment articles claim that Thomas has “regularly adopted” Crow’s position on legal cases.

What Gifts Specifically?

Trips on a private airplane and a yacht trip to and from Indonesia in 2019, valued at approximately $500,000; a yacht trip to and around New Zealand “in or around 2013;” a yacht trip to Greece in 2007; extensive free lodging and food at Topridge, a resort in the Adirondacks owned by a company that is, in turn, owned or controlled by Crow; multiple private plane trips to New Haven, Connecticut, in 2016; Dallas, Texas, in 2018 and again in 2022; New York City in 2021, and to Topridge Resort in New York in 2022.

Anything Else Apart From Travel?

Tuition payments, in excess of $6,000 per month, to two private boarding schools for Thomas’s grandnephew “while his grandnephew lived with Justice Thomas and was in Justice Thomas’s legal custody.”

What About Reports of Generosity to Clarence Thomas’ Mother?

In addition, there is property. Thomas allegedly “failed to disclose the 2014 sale of a single-story home and two vacant lots previously held by Justice Thomas and two family members, to Mr. Crow for $133,363, an amount significantly higher than the price of other properties in the neighborhood and significantly higher than $15,000, the amount that Justice Thomas valued his one-third stake in the properties in 2010.”

It also alleges that Crow “permitted Justice Thomas’s mother to continue living in the home rent-free through at least May 13, 2023, and has paid for improvements for the benefit of Justice Thomas’s mother, including construction of a car port.”

The impeachment articles do accept that “Thomas retroactively amended his 2014 report to report the real estate sales transactions” but not the free rent or improvements to his mother’s house.

Anything Else?

In addition, Thomas was allegedly involved in cases in which his spouse, Ginni Thomas, has a financial interest.

“In 2011, Harlan Crow contributed $500,000 to Liberty Central, an organization founded by Mrs. Thomas and which, in 2010, paid Mrs. Thomas a salary of $120,000,” the articles state.

Newsweek sought email comment from Clarence Thomas, Ginni Thomas and Harlan Crow on Thursday.

Where Does Donald Trump Come In?

According to texts that Thomas allegedly tried to suppress, Thomas’ wife encouraged Trump to contest the 2020 election with messages that included: ”Do not concede;” ”The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History;’ and ”Save us from the left taking America down.”

She also allegedly texted White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, with the words: “You need to buck up your team on the inside, Mark.”

What About Samuel Alito?

The allegations against Samuel Alito are shorter and deal with undisclosed gifts from donors and the controversial flying of a pro-Trump flag outside his Alexandria, Virginia, home in the days before Joe Biden was inaugurated.

“By repeatedly—over a period of multiple years—flying flags associated with the attempt to overturn the election results and stop the peaceful transfer of power, Justice Alito publicly displayed a bias toward those who incited and executed the January 6 insurrection,” the resolution states.

What Happens Now?

It will be put to a House vote but will almost certainly fail. The House of Representatives Republican majority has been steadfast in defending the two judges and will vote against impeachment.