Real estate magnate Harlan Crow has been very good to Justice Clarence Thomas, lavishing gifts and other favors on Thomas and his family. Crow provided $500,000 to allow Thomas’ wife to start a Tea Party group, and he once gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. He also served on the board of a corporate-aligned think tank called the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which once gave Thomas a $15,000 gift.
As ThinkProgress reported earlier this week, AEI filed at least three briefs in the Supreme Court after giving Thomas this very expensive gift, and Thomas either sided with AEI or took a position that was much more extreme that AEI’s in all three of these cases. ThinkProgress has now learned that a second Harlan Crow-affiliated group, the Center for the Community Interest, has a perfect record in front of Justice Thomas.
Crow served on CCI’s board alongside failed Bush judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. Westlaw’s database of Supreme Court briefs reveals eight briefs filed by CCI in eight different Supreme Court cases, and Justice Thomas voted for CCI’s preferred outcome in every single one of these cases:
- City of Chicago v. Morales: The lower court struck down a law “making it illegal for members of criminal gangs to loiter and fail to obey an order to disperse.” CCI asked the Court to reverse that decision, and Justice Thomas wrote a dissent saying that he would reverse.
- Pennsylvania Bd. of Probation and Parole v. Scott: The lower court struck down a parole board’s warrantless search of a parolee’s residence. CCI asked the Court to reverse that decision, and Justice Thomas wrote the 5–4 decision reversing.
- Dickerson v. U.S.: The lower court upheld a statute cutting at the core of accused defendant’s Miranda rights. CCI asked the Court to affirm this decision. Justice Thomas joined a dissent which would have affirmed.
- U.S. v. Knights: The lower court struck down the warrantless search of a probationer’s residence. CCI asked the Court to reverse. Justice Thomas joined a decision reversing.
- U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development v. Rucker: The lower court ruled in favor of public housing tenants who were evicted because their resident family members or caregivers violated drug laws. CCI asked the Court to reverse. Justice Thomas joined a decision reversing.
- Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe: The lower court struck down a law requiring public disclosure of registered sex offenders. CCI asked the Court to reverse. Justice Thomas joined a decision reversing.
- U.S. v. American Library Ass’n, Inc.: The lower court struck down a federal law requiring many public libraries to use filtering software that prevents web browsers from showing some pornographic material. CCI asked the Court to reverse. Justice Thomas joined a plurality opinion reversing.
- Devenpeck v. Alford: The lower court held an arrest unconstitutional. CCI asked the Court to reverse. Justice Thomas joined an opinion reversing.
To be clear, there is no direct evidence that Crow lavished gifts on Thomas in order to switch his vote in any of these cases. But Thomas’ refusal to turn away Crow’s gifts remains a severe blow to the integrity of the judiciary. The losing parties in each of these cases has a right to be confident that their cases were decided solely on the merits, and Thomas’ relationship with Crow strikes directly at that confidence.