Ocasio-Cortez Moves to Impeach SCOTUS Justices Alito, Thomas

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment against U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito after recent scandals raised ethical concerns about their conduct.

The New York progressive filed two impeachment resolutions in the House against the conservative justices, according to a press release from her office. The first accuses Thomas of failing to disclose financial income, gifts and reimbursements and other information, and of refusing to recuse himself from matters “concerning his spouse’s legal interest in cases before the court.”

In order to prevail, Ocasio-Cortez would need support from both the House and Senate, as only Congress has the authority to remove a Supreme Court justice. 

The congresswoman cited the gifts Thomas and his wife received from billionaire and Republican donor Harlan Crow. Last year, a bombshell ProPublica report revealed that throughout Thomas’s decadeslong tenure on the court, he failed to disclose gifts and perks from Crow, including luxury vacations and trips on Crow’s private jet.

Thomas’s unreported gifts include a private plane and yacht trip to Indonesia that cost about $500,000 in 2019 and “tuition payments, in excess of $6,000 per month, to two private boarding schools for Justice Thomas’s grandnephew,” according to a copy of the resolution.

Last month, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chair of the Judiciary Committee and frequent Court watchdog, released records revealing additional undisclosed trips Thomas took on Crow’s dime. In a statement to NBC News, an attorney for Thomas said the justice wasn’t legally required to disclose those trips.

In May, Alito made headlines for two right-wing flags that were flown at his household on at least two separate occasions. Multiple New York Times reports revealed that his household flew political flags in two separate incidents — one was a “Stop the Steal” flag that was seen flying at his Virginia home days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol; the other was a flag linked to Christian Nationalism that was spotted at his New Jersey vacation home.

In response to ethical concerns from Durbin and others, Alito rebuffed calls to recuse himself from any Jan. 6 or 2020 election-related cases. In a letter explaining his reasoning, Alito blamed his wife for the flags and cited the code of conduct the Court adopted last year that has no enforcement mechanism.

Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution against Alito cites the incidents and Alito’s refusal to recuse himself from the Trump immunity and Jan. 6 cases, in which the Court recently handed down decisions.

The Court ruled last week that former presidents are entitled to at least presumptive immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts, and absolute immunity “with respect to the president’s exercise of his core constitutional powers.” In the Jan. 6 case, the court issued a decision that weakens a federal law criminalizing the obstruction of an official proceeding.

Congressional Democrats have long attempted to bring more accountability to the court with little success. A group of Democrats last month introduced a bill that would establish an investigative body within the Court to investigate alleged ethical improprieties and report its findings to Congress. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s impeachment effort is joined by fellow progressive sponsors including Michigan U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

“Given the court’s demonstrated inability to preserve its own legitimate conduct,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement, “it is incumbent upon Congress to contain the threat this poses to our democracy.”

Read the resolutions against Thomas and Alito here.