Justice Clarence Thomas Faces Favoritism Accusations After Hiring Wife's Former Employee As Law Clerk

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has appointed Crystal Clanton, his wife’s former employee, as a law clerk. This decision has sparked allegations of favoritism.

What Happened: Clanton, a 29-year-old conservative activist turned lawyer, was selected for the 2024 October term of the Supreme Court, a highly sought-after position, reported The New York Times. Clanton, who had previously been accused of sending racist text messages, has been closely associated with the Thomas family, even being referred to as their “nearly adopted daughter.”

Clanton, previously implicated in sending racist text messages, including one expressing disdain for Black people, has resided in the Thomas household, supported Ms. Thomas in her political consulting endeavours, and accompanied her on a trip to New York.

In 2019, prompted by Thomases, Clanton enrolled at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Virginia, where Justice Thomas was a faculty member. Subsequently, she was awarded a full merit scholarship, as reported by another judge who subsequently employed her.

Clanton’s appointment has drawn criticism, with some accusing Thomas of nepotism, especially given the justice’s existing ethical controversies regarding his travel and gifts from wealthy benefactors.

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Despite the backlash, Thomas’s decision is seen as a demonstration of his support for a young conservative woman who has been under fire for her alleged racist messages.

Thomas’s decision to hire Clanton, who has been accused of sending racist text messages, has further fueled the controversy surrounding the justice. Critics argue that this appointment is an example of favoritism, which is discouraged by the federal judicial code of conduct. Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics expert at Washington University in St. Louis, believes that Thomas’s hiring of Clanton, who is described as a “nearly adopted daughter,” is a form of “favoritism” prohibited by the code.

Why It Matters: Thomas’s decision to hire Clanton comes amidst a series of controversies surrounding the Supreme Court justice. In February, comedian John Oliver offered Thomas $1 million annually to resign from his position. This offer was made in response to Thomas’s alleged ethical lapses, including a 2014 real estate deal with a Republican megadonor, which he failed to disclose.

Thomas also acknowledged in his annual financial disclosure forms that he had taken at least three trips aboard a private plane owned by a Republican mega-donor in 2022.

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