A company linked to Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, a longtime friend of Clarence Thomas who paid for lavish trips for the Supreme Court justice and his wifehad cases before the Supreme Court in the mid-2000s, records show.
Crow’s name does not appear in a caption in the case, which involved a dispute over a copyrighted architectural design, and his office said neither Crow nor his company were involved in the dispute. case or had not discussed it with Thomas.
But the revelation challenges the pair’s claims that their relationship was completely separate from Thomas’ role as a Supreme Court justice and is likely to add scrutiny to his ethical conduct. Recently, judges have come under pressure to be more forthcoming about their actions and finances, and Thomas’ travels paid for by Crow were not disclosed on his financial disclosure forms. Additionally, in a statement released by Thomas in April, he said Crow “did not have a case in court.”
In January 2005, the Supreme Court declined to hear Womack+Hampton Architects v. Metric Holdings Limited Partnership, according to the role on the court’s website. If a judge had been recused from participating in the case, this would have been noted. There were no such notations.
The Crow name does not appear in the case caption, but a corporate disclosure statement attached to the filing indicates Metric Holdings’ parent company is Trammell Crow Residential Company. According to a statement from Harlan Crow’s office, the Crow family held a non-controlling interest in Trammell Crow Residential Company at the time.
“At the time of this matter, Trammell Crow Residential was operating completely independently of Crow Holdings with a separate management team and its own independent operations,” Crow’s office said in the statement.
“Crow Holdings had a minority stake in the parties involved in this matter and therefore no control over any of these entities. Neither Harlan Crow nor Crow Holdings had knowledge of or involvement in this matter, and a search of Crow Holdings’ legal records reveals no involvement in this matter. Harlan Crow never discussed this matter or any other matter with the law,” the office said.
When the architecture firm appealed to the Supreme Court, Harlan Crow was the chief executive of Crow Holdings and chairman of its board of directors, a position he still holds. He stepped down as CEO in 2017, according to Bloomberg Newswho first reported the case and the relationship with Crow.
Thomas, via a Supreme Court spokesperson, declined to comment for this story.
Earlier this month, after ProPublica first reported the trips paid for by Crow, Thomas explained in a statement that he had not disclosed the trips because he had been informed that he had not to report them under the ethics rules in effect at the time.
In a rare statement from Thomas and his wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, they considered Crow and his wife “dearest friends.”
Thomas said the trips were the “kind of personal hospitality of close personal friends” that he said didn’t require disclosure. He noted that the rules had recently changed and said he “intends to follow these guidelines in the future”.