A foray of attacks on Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, and Neil Gorsuch by left-wing publications and the radical left echo chamber is nothing more than a political campaign to destroy the court because it is no longer acting like super-legislature imposing left-wing policies. These political attacks, masquerading as journalism, are all funded by uber-wealthy left-wing donors and are marching to those donors’ agendas.
Take ProPublica, which has published several dishonest stories smearing Justices Thomas and Alito regarding trips they have taken. ProPublica is worse than your typical corporate media organization, like The New York Times or CNN, which bring a clear bias and agenda to their reporting. Calling itself “nonpartisan” and “independent,” ProPublica is directly funded by left-wing billionaires who fund other organizations that support court packing and prefer a court that engages in liberal judicial activism to impose a radical left agenda on the American people.
ProPublica is funded by the top far-left billionaires in the country. The Sandler Foundation is a left-wing group founded by Herbert Sandler, a billionaire who enriched himself with shady lending practices that many say fueled the 2008 housing crash. It has given ProPublica more than $40 million. The Sandler Foundation also funds Demand Justice, a left-wing group, headed by Hillary Clinton’s former adviser, which has called for court packing. The Sandler Foundation isn’t alone. ProPublica also receives millions in funding from the Foundation to Promote an Open Society, which is backed by left-wing billionaire George Soros, and others.
ProPublica published a dishonest story alleging that Thomas violated federal ethics laws by not disclosing trips with his long-time friend Harlan Crow on his financial disclosure forms. (Disclosure: I was also on some of these trips). It omitted that these same allegations were submitted to the Judicial Conference by 20 members of Congress and two left-wing groups in 2011. The Judicial Conference ruled that “no evidence had been presented” that supported these allegations. The Judicial Conference is the governing body to implement the federal ethics law for the judiciary, and it reviews and approves every disclosure form filed by a justice. How could ProPublica omit this critical fact?
Instead, ProPublica cites a left-wing “judicial ethics expert,” Kedric Payne from the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), which also happens to receive millions in funding from the Sandler Foundation and the Soros-funded Foundation to Promote an Open Society. Consistent with his funders’ agenda, Payne opined that Thomas had violated the law. This is a conflicted and dishonest article.
During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Payne initially denied retweeting a post that stated “John Roberts is a disgrace.” When confronted with the tweet, he later corrected his testimony to admit he had. He also initially denied retweeting a post that claimed “Justices are for sale” but backed down at the hearing from this slanderous claim and admitted (rightfully) that no justice was for sale. Does this sound like a fair and neutral witness?
In its story, ProPublica also cited officials from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the American Constitution Society (ACS) for their supposedly nonpartisan “judicial ethics” opinions. But ACS has received millions from the Sandler Foundation, and CREW receives millions in funding from the Soros-funded Foundation to Promote an Open Society, among other left-wing donors. This is not fair and impartial; it’s downright partisan and dishonest. The “reporter” and the “ethics officials” are all funded by the same left-wing organizations with an agenda to radically reshape the court.
ProPublica smeared Alito with a similar story. ProPublica alleged Alito broke ethics laws by not disclosing a fishing trip to Alaska, again citing left-wing “judicial ethics experts,” including a CREW lawyer. To make the story even more misleading, ProPublica waits until nearly the end of its very long story (the 73rd paragraph!) to disclose that a Judicial Conference financial disclosure staffer had advised another federal judge who had been on a similar fishing trip to Alaska two years earlier in 2005, that he did not have to disclose the trip on his disclosure form. The judge even provided ProPublica with contemporaneous notes.
It does not matter at all what CREW, ACS, or CLC left-wing partisan activists say or what false narrative ProPublica wants to manufacture for its donors. The Judicial Conference is the governing body, and its actions have made it clear that the justices previously did not have to report these trips. In March 2023, the Judicial Conference amended its guidance to require disclosing private plane rides on similar future trips. By making this change, the Judicial Conference clearly acknowledged that such trips were previously exempt. News coverage reported as much.
ProPublica is hellbent on destroying this court because it is now a court faithful to the Constitution. It’s not about ethics. No one had a problem when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg accepted a trip with Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn in 2018 to three countries in the Middle East. She listed this trip as a reimbursement and did not disclose its value. And this trip came shortly after the Supreme Court issued a favorable ruling for Kahn’s company. No one claimed Ginsburg was being rewarded for the court’s action. Similarly, no one had a problem when Justice Breyer flew on billionaire David Rubenstein’s plane in 2013 to attend a wedding in Nantucket. Breyer also listed this flight as a reimbursement and did not disclose its value.
There is not a shred of evidence that any of the trips Thomas or Alito took affected their rulings or opinions in any way whatsoever. Much of the criticism is that Thomas and Alito were provided nice accommodations on a trip, whether they disclosed the trip or not. There is nothing wrong or unethical with justices traveling, and this criticism shows why the left is disingenuously using these “travel” issues to smear Thomas and Alito.
Ginsburg and Breyer traveled frequently to Europe and other international destinations for weeks at a time that were paid for by third parties. Ginsburg put together a trip in 2002 paid for by Hofstra Law School that allowed her to travel for nearly three weeks (July 6-24) to Nice, France, and London, England. I am certain she stayed in very nice hotels and dined at very nice restaurants in two of the most beautiful cities in the world. Between 2004-2021, Breyer went on 233 trips, including 63 international trips, all paid by third parties. During the same time frame, Ginsburg went on 157 trips, with 28 international trips.
There is nothing wrong with this, but if the left is going to scream about Thomas or Alito enjoying a nice trip and having a third party “subsidize” their lifestyle, disclosed or not, Ginsburg and Breyer traveled the world on trips paid for by third parties a great deal more.
ProPublica and its fellow left-wing-funded advocacy groups’ attacks on Thomas and Alito are dishonest and intended to undermine the American people’s trust in the court. There is no ethics problem with the justices. These despicable attacks won’t work, and ProPublica needs to be called out for them.