ABA rips Clarence Thomas' gift acceptance

Dec. 31, 2004 at 9:09 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The American Bar Association is criticizing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for accepting expensive gifts, even though he disclosed all of them.

Thomas, often at odds with the main U.S. lawyer's lobby, has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts since joining the Supreme Court, from $1,200 worth of tires to valuable historical items and a $5,000 personal check to help pay a relative's education expenses, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Thomas disclosed the gifts under a 1978 federal ethics law that requires high-ranking government officials, including Supreme Court justices, to file a report each year that lists gifts, money and other items they have received.

"Why would someone do that -- give a gift to Clarence Thomas -- unless they are family members or really close friends, the only reason to give gifts is to influence the judge?" said Mark I. Harrison, head of the ABA's Commission on the Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

"And we think it is not helpful to have judges accepting gifts for no apparent reason."

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