Letter to James Duff and George Reynolds on Thomas's apparent ethical violations

October 5, 2011

James Duff


Administrative Head of the United States Courts

One Columbus Circle, NE

Washington, DC 20544

George Reynolds


Committee on Financial Disclosure

Administrative Office of the United States Courts

Suite 2-301

One Columbus Circle, NE

Washington, DC 20544

Dear Mr. Duff and Mr. Reynolds:This letter is to follow-up on the Common Cause and Alliance for Justice letter dated September 13, 2011, requesting that the Judicial Conference take action on Justice Clarence Thomas's apparent violations of the Ethics in Government Act. The letter was forwarded to the Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure on September 26, 2011. Since then, new information has come to light that makes more clear and compelling the Judicial Conference's statutory obligation to refer the matter to the Department of Justice.

As we detailed in our previous letter, between 1997-2007 Justice Thomas checked the box "none" for spousal income on his annual financial disclosure forms, despite the fact that Virginia Thomas earned income from several organizations during this time period, including the Heritage Foundation. When the inaccurate disclosures were made public, the Justice amended his forms and stated that he had misunderstood the reporting requirement.

Since last we wrote, our organizations have learned that Justice Thomas correctly disclosed his wife's income for as many as ten years before he began to file inaccurate disclosure forms. Our newly discovered evidence shows that Justice Thomas properly filled out his forms and accurately disclosed his wife's income as early as 1987, while the Chair of the EEOC, continuing as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and for five years as a Justice on the Supreme Court. These revelations call into question Justice Thomas' explanation that his omissions were due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.

Additionally, we have since learned that the amount earned by Virginia Thomas during the years that Justice Thomas failed to report her income exceeds $1.6 million. Both of these newly discovered facts increase the gravity of the situation and make more urgent the Judicial Conference's need to take action.

Section 104(b) of the Act requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General any judge whom the Conference "has reasonable cause to believe has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported." Given that Justice Thomas correctly disclosed his wife's income for a decade while serving in three federal positions before beginning to report inaccurately in 1997, we believe that Justice Thomas' omissions meet that standard.

We respectfully request that the Judicial Conference make a timely and public determination that Justice Thomas' misreporting of his wife's income, gives rise to "reasonable cause" under �104, and refer the matter to the Department of Justice.


Nan Aron


Alliance for Justice

Bob Edgar

President and CEO

Common Cause

Click for the press release

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