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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he flew on private jet for security reasons after abortion decision leaked

 September 1, 2023

Security concerns following a leak of a draft opinion in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade prompted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to travel via private jet flights last spring, according to recent reports.

Last spring, Thomas chose to travel via private jet due to security concerns that arose after a draft opinion in the pivotal abortion rights case was leaked. This information was included as part of a financial disclosure for 2022, released on Thursday, which explains why he chose this mode of travel for a trip to Dallas in May of that year. The disclosure reveals that the trip was funded by Harlan Crow, a Republican donor and longtime friend of Thomas, as the Daily Wire reported.

Security concerns led to recommendation of noncommercial travel

The report indicates that the leak of the Dobbs opinion led to an increased security risk, prompting Thomas's security detail to recommend noncommercial travel whenever possible.

This recommendation influenced the decision for Thomas to travel by private plane for official travel in May.

Reimbursement for this trip, which included meals and transportation, was related to Thomas's role as a keynote speaker at the American Enterprise Institute’s Conference at Old Parkland.

The disclosure also reveals other trips funded by Crow in 2022 and provides additional details on financial and real estate matters from several years ago.

This information was included to clarify previous omissions attributed to errors or to provide additional information on topics that have received media attention.

Draft opinion leak suggested reversal of Roe v. Wade

In May 2022, POLITICO published a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, which suggested that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned.

Subsequently, on June 24, the Supreme Court released Alito's majority opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. This opinion overturned the 1973 Roe decision, returning the issue of abortion to the states.

Alito, during remarks at the Heritage Foundation in October, expressed that the leak made those supporting the overruling of Roe potential assassination targets.

In June 2022, an individual was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Additionally, GOP lawmakers have urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to enforce federal laws against protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, emphasizing the increased dangers they faced.

Investigation into leak unable to identify culprit

Chief Justice John Roberts assigned the Supreme Court’s marshal, Gail Curley, to investigate the draft opinion's leak.

However, the probe, which concluded in January, was unable to identify the responsible party.

After having been granted 90-day extensions, Thomas and Alito released their 2022 financial disclosure reports on Thursday.

Both justices have been under increasing scrutiny from congressional Democrats due to concerns that they did not properly disclose gifts and paid-for trips.

This scrutiny was fueled by reports from ProPublica. In March, the Judicial Conference issued new guidance reinforcing personal hospitality disclosure rules.

Elliot Berke, an attorney assisting Thomas, provided a statement to reporters indicating that the new disclosure report completely refutes the charges made in this partisan feeding frenzy.

Conclusion

  • Security concerns following the Dobbs draft opinion leak led to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas traveling via private jet last spring.
  • The leak suggested that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, making those supporting the decision potential assassination targets.
  • An investigation into the leak was unable to identify the responsible party.
  • Congressional Democrats have scrutinized Thomas and Alito for potentially failing to properly disclose gifts and paid-for trips.
  • The new disclosure report completely refutes the charges made in this partisan feeding frenzy.