Ted Cruz decries ‘political smear job’ against Clarence Thomas for ethics questions

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday argued that the scrutiny on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over his financial disclosures is a “political smear job” as lawmakers push to shore up the court’s ethics standards.

“They’re not looking at any other judges. This is a political smear job directed at Clarence Thomas, because he is an extraordinary constitutionalist,” Cruz said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” The senator said he thinks Democrats are scrutinizing Thomas because an “African-American is not allowed to be a conservative.”

Recent reporting from ProPublica found that Thomas didn’t disclose several luxury trips paid for by Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, and that the justice also didn’t report a 2014 real estate deal he’d made with the same Republican megadonor. Thomas said later that he was “advised” that he did not need to disclose the trips.

Crow has also said he thinks the attacks on Thomas are politically motivated.

The ProPublica reports stoked renewed debate over ethics standards for the justices, who serve life terms, and potential reforms for the nation’s highest court.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) summoned Chief Justice John Roberts to Congress over the matter, an invite Roberts declined. Several Democratic lawmakers have called for Thomas to resign.

Polling earlier this year indicated less than half of Americans approve of the way the court is handling its job — and results earlier this month found majorities support gift disclosure requirements and a code of ethics for Supreme Court Justices.

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