The weaponization of financial disclosure forms is alive and well. But per usual, the heightened scrutiny is only applied against conservatives.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., is reportedly considering holding a hearing to investigate the Judicial Conference’s handling of Justice Clarence Thomas’s inadvertent omission of his wife’s salary from the Heritage Foundation and Hillsdale College on his financial disclosure forms in the early 2000s. This is a curious matter to investigate since Thomas amended his forms as soon as the mistake was brought to his attention in 2011. But while Whitehouse continues his relentless attacks on Thomas, he is ignoring a much more egregious disclosure omission. Democrat senators have failed to acknowledge that for years Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has failed to disclose all of the sources of her husband’s income.
Under the Ethics in Government Act, federal judges are required to disclose the source(s) of a spouse’s income. When Thomas made an inadvertent omission and it was brought to his attention, he immediately amended his forms. Jackson made a similar omission, but unlike Thomas, she apparently has failed to amend her forms and has not provided the source of her husband’s income more than a year after her mistake was identified. That’s a problem that needs to be corrected immediately.
When Jackson was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2022, she filed an amended financial disclosure form for calendar year 2020 and noted that she had failed to disclose several items on her previous forms. Most notably, she repeatedly failed to list her husband’s income from his consulting services on medical malpractice cases. In her amended form, she simply listed “Legal Malpractice consulting” as the source of her husband’s additional income.
But that amendment isn’t enough. The law requires her to list the source of his income, rather than the activity in which he engaged. In her amended form for calendar year 2020, Jackson states that “some of [her] previously filed reports inadvertently omitted” her husband’s income from “consulting on medical malpractice cases.” But she does not list the years for which she failed to disclose this income, nor does she disclose the sources of income. A review of public websites, such as Court Listener, indicates she has not made any amendments to her previously filed incorrect disclosure forms.
Jackson did disclose her husband’s consulting income in the financial disclosure form she filed for her nomination to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. That disclosure form covered the years 2011 and 2012, and she listed two separate sources. But after that, she omitted similar payments in subsequent years until her nomination to the Supreme Court. She only listed his salary from Medstar Hospital on her forms.
The law requires a justice to list all sources of income from which a spouse receives more than $1,000. What Jackson had to disclose depended on how her husband did business. If her husband created a separate LLC for medical malpractice consulting, then she could simply list its name because that would be the source of income. If her husband did not set up a separate LLC, which seems more likely, then she is required to list every client from which he received more than $1,000. Jackson listed neither.
She listed “Legal Malpractice consulting” on her 2020 amended form, which is an activity — not a source. Maybe her husband never set up an LLC, and she was uncomfortable sharing her husband’s clients. Or perhaps she didn’t remember to list the LLC by name. Either way, her disclosure appears not to be in compliance with the Ethics in Government Act. And it’s been more than a year.
Using the standards on which critics attack Thomas, how could Jackson have failed to disclose her husband’s income? The income could have been considerable. She disclosed these fees in 2011 and then failed to disclose them for a decade.
More recently, when an omission from Thomas’s 2014 financial disclosure form regarding the sale of his mother’s home, for which he had a one-third interest, was brought to his attention, news reports have indicated that Thomas is expected to amend his 2014 form to reflect this sale. In fact, amendments to these forms are not uncommon, from justices to members of Congress to executive branch officials. Justice Sonia Sotomayor amended her 2016 form in 2021 to add six trips funded by third parties that she had failed to disclose.
Whitehouse wants to smear Thomas by any means necessary, but he gives a complete pass to Jackson, who has refused to make the necessary corrections to her forms, and the Democrats don’t seem to care. The double standard is indeed alive and well.