4/7/2023 in News & Media, Press Releases

Leading Civil Rights Organizations Call for Swift Action Regarding News Reports that Justice Clarence Thomas was Lavished with Expensive Gifts

April 7, 2023
Media Contact: IWoodruff@NationalFairHousing.org 

Washington, D.C. — Some of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations issued a joint statement expressing shock and dismay following news reports that Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas accepted expensive gifts from Texas billionaire and real estate mogul Harlan Crow. The reports are an alarm about the need for strong ethics reforms for the nation’s highest court, they said. 

ProPublica wrote a lengthy piece detailing how Thomas has accepted luxury gifts from Crow almost every year for more than two decades without reporting them on financial disclosure forms. The gifts included trips on Crow’s yacht and private jet.  

“Our organizations uphold the nation’s civil and human rights laws and often find our issues before the Supreme Court. The cases we bring or support impact the lives of millions of people in this nation. We must have a court that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful. And we must have full confidence and faith that no member of the highest court in the land is compromised. The Supreme Court is a critical and necessary pillar of our nation’s judicial branch. It is part of the foundation upon which our democracy was built with the most somber responsibility to evaluate and interpret our laws. 

“This is just the latest report raising serious ethical concerns, and the news that Justice Thomas has allegedly received gifts, perhaps totaling millions of dollars, further undermines the public’s trust that the court will fairly hear and adjudicate our society’s most critical legal issues. As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court must be held to the highest ethical standard. Yet currently, they are the only federal court with no binding ethics code. 

“We support and commend Senator Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has vowed to act and expressed the need for a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices. We could not agree more. Congress must move swiftly to pass legislation establishing an enforceable code of ethics for Supreme Court justices. We also call upon the Committee and Congress to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted into these allegations.

“Congress must act to restore the public’s faith in the Supreme Court, the head of our nation’s judicial branch of government. Supreme Court justices hold tremendous power and sway. Their decisions impact every area and facet of our lives. It is imperative for our democracy and all of us that the Supreme Court be beyond reproach and that its rulings are administered fairly, with justice, and without prejudice or unfair influence.”

This statement was issued jointly by the following organizations:

  • National Fair Housing Alliance
  • Color Of Change
  • National Action Network
  • National Urban League


The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities. Visit nationalfairhousing.org to learn more.

Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit colorofchange.org to learn more.

National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression, or sexuality. Visit nationalactionnetwork.net to learn more.

The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment, equality, and social justice. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the Urban League collaborates at the national and local levels with community leaders, policymakers, and corporate partners to elevate the standards of living for African Americans and other historically underserved groups. Visit nul.org to learn more.