Harlan Crow, a billionaire and influential Republican donor who has for years lavished gifts and financial favors upon Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, denied having any sway over Thomas’s judicial decisions and said they do not discuss court cases, in an interview published Monday with the Atlantic.

The gifts Thomas accepted from Crow over two decades have included luxury vacations around the globe – including travel on a superyacht and private jet – that were not disclosed by the justice, according to a ProPublica investigation last month. Subsequent investigations by ProPublica revealed that Crow had also paid the private school tuition for one of Thomas’s relatives. It also reported that Thomas had failed to disclose a real estate deal in which Crow purchased and renovated a house where Thomas’s mother was living.

Supreme Court Thomas Luxury Trips

Harlan Crow

The revelations have prompted Senate Democrats to urge Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to start his own investigation into gifts to Thomas from Crow, with some Democrats calling for Thomas to step down. They have also reinvigorated calls for the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of ethics.

But in his interview with the Atlantic, Crow waved off any suggestion of impropriety and defended his relationship with Thomas. The Dallas business executive, who has donated to GOP causes related to the law and judiciary, said the hospitality he had extended to the Supreme Court justice was not out of the ordinary for him.

“For a long time, I’ve lived a certain lifestyle,” Crow told the magazine. “I’ve been successful. I have lived a comfortable life. I have a really big house. . . I don’t think there’s anything bad about it.”

Crow also said he saw no issue with his 2014 purchase from Thomas of three properties in Savannah, Ga., including the single-story house where Thomas’s mother was living and two vacant lots nearby. Thomas did not include the $133,363 real estate transaction on his financial disclosure forms, as federal law would have required.


As he said last month, Crow justified the transaction to the Atlantic by saying that he had wanted to preserve the first property as a museum dedicated to Thomas in the future. He added that Thomas’s mother received the right to live there until her death because it was “very common” in deals with the elderly.

“It was a fair-market transaction, and I had a purpose,” Crow told the magazine. “I don’t see the foot fault.”

Supreme Court Thomas Luxury Trips

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

Thomas has acknowledged he befriended Crow after he joined the Supreme Court in 1991 and said Crow and his wife are among his “dearest friends.” Crow echoed that sentiment to the Atlantic and claimed the two do not discuss work-related issues beyond “casual” matters. Crow added that he was not a “law guy” and that it was “off limits” for them to discuss Supreme Court cases.

“It would be absurd to me to talk to Justice Thomas about Supreme Court cases, because that’s not my world,” Crow told the magazine. “I could probably name maybe five or six cases. Brown v. Board of Education. Marbury v. Madison.”

He said his conversations usually involved mundane issues. “We talk about life. We’re two guys who are the same age and grew up in the same era. We share a love of Motown,” Crow said in the interview.

Crow repeatedly defended both his and Thomas’s character and told the Atlantic that he hoped “this is the last conversation I have on this topic in public.” He did not answer whether he had any other financial relationships with Thomas or his family members, according to the magazine.

Outside of his financial relationship with Crow, Thomas has long been under scrutiny for possible conflicts of interest. Earlier this month, The Washington Post revealed that conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo had directed tens of thousands of dollars to Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas but urged “no mention” of her on the paperwork.

Last year, Senate Democrats called on Thomas to recuse himself from certain cases after it was revealed that his wife had pressed the Trump White House in text messages to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Thomas was the only justice to dissent in the Supreme Court’s decision in January to reject Donald Trump’s request to block documents from being released to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

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