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Ronald Reagan and Clarence Thomas in 1986

Ronald Reagan and Clarence Thomas in 1986. | Photo Credit: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Justice Clarence Thomas Faces New Scrutiny Amid Claims of Corruption

April 17, 2023

Justice Clarence Thomas Faces New Scrutiny Amid Claims of Corruption

Ask Students: Why has Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas been facing scrutiny for his relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow?

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Summary

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is facing questions again about his failure to disclose transactions with a Republican megadonor. A new report by ProPublica details a 2014 real estate deal in which Harlan Crow’s company paid $133,000 to Thomas and his family to buy the home where the justice’s mother lived. Geoff Bennett discussed the report with Gabe Roth of Fix the Court.

For a transcript of this story, click here.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  • Who is interviewed for this story, and what is his background?
  • Why has Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas been facing scrutiny for his relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow?
  • When and Where did Harlan Crow buy property from Thomas?
  • What are some of the other gifts Crow has given to Thomas that Thomas didn’t disclose?
  • How should government officials respond to revelations about undisclosed gifts and payments to Thomas, according to Gabe Roth?

Focus Questions

Why might it be a problem for Supreme Court justices (or other judges) to accept expensive gifts and favorable financial deals from others? What rules do you think should be in place around gifts from acquaintances for justices?

Media Literacy: The guest for this segment is introduced as Gabe Roth of “Fix the Court” which is identified as “a group that advocates for court reforms.” What reforms do you think Fix the Court wants to see? How could you find out?

Extension Activity

As a class, visit the website of Fix the Court, the organization that guest Gabe Roth represents. You can visit this page to find a list of reforms that Fix the Court is advocating. Read through the list and discuss:

  • What reforms do you agree should be put in place?
  • Are you surprised that any of these suggested changes are not already in place?
  • Who do you think should have power as a watchdog over Supreme Court justice actions?

The Supreme Court: Balancing the Branches Lesson Plans

Share My Lesson has free, tailored preK-12 resources to ensure your students leave your classroom equipped with a deeper knowledge of civics and government to think critically about today's toughest issues.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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