Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's "blackness" has long been questioned, but revelations of his off the bench relationships have now called into question his ethics.
A scandal is heating up over his friendships with big-moneyed conservatives who have lavished him with favors, including helping to finance a library project in his honor, and gifts that include a Bible that belonged to Frederic Douglass and reportedly $500,000 for Thomas's wife, Virginia, to start a Tea Party-related group, according to a recently published story in The New York Times.
A wealthy friend even financed the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of the seafood cannery where Thomas' mother once worked as a crab picker, which now features a museum about the culture and history of the small town it's in.
The dealings have further fueled debate about Supreme Court ethics. The kicker here is that according to law, Supreme Court Justices are not beholden by the same code of conduct for federal judges.
The museum project has drawn much of the ire. While the nonprofit Pin Point museum is not intended to honor Justice Thomas, people involved in the project said his role in the community's history would inevitably be part of it, and he participated in a documentary film that is to accompany the exhibits, the Times reported.
Deborah L. Rhode, a Stanford University law professor who has called for stricter ethics rules for Supreme Court justices, told the newspaper that Justice Thomas "should not be directly involved in fund-raising activities, no matter how worthy they are or whether he's being centrally honored by the museum."
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