New database reveals the total number and dollar amount of Supreme Court gifts

Plus, the GOP's candidate for Ohio's Senate seat falls in the polls.

According to a new report released by court watchdog group Fix the Court, the past 17 members of the Supreme Court have accepted millions of dollars worth of gifts over the past two decades. 

“All told, the number of gifts FTC identified that were accepted by the current nine, plus the eight who’ve left the court since 2004 [Justices Rehnquist, Stevens, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer[ is 546, valued at $4,755,147. Adding in Justice Thomas’ 126 likely gifts since his confirmation, that tally comes to 672 gifts valued at $6,592,65,” the report reads. 

Of the 344 confirmed gifts, 103 are attributed to Thomas, and they come out to an astonishing $2,402,310. For comparison, the next closest justice was Antonin Scalia, who received $210,164 worth of gifts. 

But even when factoring in the addition of “likely gifts,” Fix the Court stated that the total is almost certainly an undercount. It’s clear in hindsight that the lack of transparency surrounding gifts has made an official tally especially difficult. 

“Supreme Court justices should not be accepting gifts, let alone the hundreds of freebies worth millions of dollars they’ve received over the years,” Fix the Court’s executive director Gabe Roth explained. 

“Public servants who make four times the median local salary, and who can make millions writing books on any topic they like, can afford to pay for their own vacations, vehicles, hunting excursions and club memberships — to say nothing of the influence the gift-givers are buying with their ‘generosity.’ The ethics crisis at the Court won’t begin to abate until justices adopt stricter gift acceptance rules,” he continued. 

The initial revelations surrounding the gifts came in the spring of last year, after the investigative newsroom ProPublica revealed that the right-wing mogul Harlan Crow had provided Thomas with countless trips to exclusive resorts and rides on his luxury yacht. 

The proceeding scandal rocked confidence in the Court, which saw public opinion of it reach record lows. To quiet concerns about bribery and impropriety, the nine justices signed a historic code of ethics. Conduct expected of judges going forwarded explicitly made reference to receiving gifts. 

Even a former attorney of Donald Trump was shocked by the lack of transparency and conduct amongst the judges. 

“I’ve represented several senior executive branch officials with investigations from the Office of Government Ethics,” Tim Parlatore, who represented Trump following the Department of Justice’s Jan. 6 investigation, said in a recent interview with CNN. 

“Military officers are only allowed to accept gifts up to $20. NYPD cops, they get written up if they take a free cup of coffee. There are rules in place for federal judges that limit the gift that they can get at $50, but it specifically exempts the Supreme Court.”

Bernie Moreno drops in polls after series of dishonest statements on campaign trail

By Richard Eberwein

A new Marist poll saw Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) take a five-point advantage over Republican challenger Bernie Moreno, after several media outlets unearthed misleading and deceptive statements from Moreno.

According to Marist, Brown leads Moreno among all registered voters in the state of Ohio while also holding a 16-point advantage among independent voters.

With registered voters in Ohio:

Brown (D): 50%

Moreno (R): 45%

The poll comes after many media reports refuting statements Moreno has made both on and off the campaign trail since launching his Senate bid in April 2023. Moreno claimed that his family was in poverty when they immigrated to the United States from Colombia.

“We came here with absolutely nothing — we came here legally — but we came here, nine of us in a two-bedroom apartment,” Moreno claimed in 2023.

A New York Times article last month shined light on the fact that Moreno actually grew up in a very wealthy and connected family. Moreno’s step-grandfather also reportedly lent the family money to move into a four-bedroom home in Pompano Beach after they came to the United States.

In addition to embellishing his upbringing, Moreno also potentially lied about escaping socialism in Colombia, building his car dealership empire without handouts and bringing 5G to the city of Cleveland.

In March, Moreno secured the Republican nomination for Ohio’s U.S. Senate race after defeating Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan. Moreno also won the support of former President Donald Trump after spending thousands to cater events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. Moreno gladly accepted the endorsement, despite calling Trump a “lunatic” and a “maniac” in 2016.

Subscribe to The Lede

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson