Clarence Thomas complained about low salary as Supreme Court Justice: Report

By Jen Krausz on
 December 19, 2023

A new report from ProPublica details complaints reportedly made by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas about his low salary as a justice, and it also claims that he threatened to quit before his rich friends started gifting him with vacations and paying some of his bills.

Thomas commented to a Republican lawmaker in the early 2000s that "one or more justices" would leave if salaries were not raised, which led to efforts to raise justices' salaries. Those efforts ultimately failed.

The Thomas family was reportedly deeply in debt for much of that decade, and their situation got even tougher when they took in Thomas's nephew.

At about that time, Ginni Thomas began to receive a low six-figure salary from the Heritage Foundation, and Harlan Crow paid for several luxury vacations for the family and private school tuition for his nephew. Thomas also got a $1.5 million book advance for a memoir.

Obviously, the report is meant to suggest that the Thomases were somehow wrong to take the gifts and salary for Ginni and that there was something wrong with Thomas's complaints. But many people complain about not having enough money, and there was nothing wrong with taking the gifts according to the court's rules at the time.

Many public servants give up lucrative opportunities in order to serve, and it seems like an increasing number of them are finding ways to get around the system and find the funding they need -- many of them in much shadier ways than the Thomases did.