‘A Friend Of Mine’: Former Justice Breyer Says Clarence Thomas Is A ‘Man Of Integrity’

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Former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer called Justice Clarence Thomas a “man of integrity” during a First Circuit Court of Appeals event Thursday, Bloomberg Law reported.

Breyer’s statements came in response to a question posed by PBS NewsHour Supreme Court analyst Marcia Coyle about his views on Thomas and a potential Supreme Court code of ethics, according to Bloomberg Law. Breyer said that Thomas, who has recently been under attack by Democratic lawmakers for a ProPublica report alleging he violated ethics rules by failing to disclose expense paid vacations provided by friend and billionaire Harlan Crow, is “a friend of his.”

“As far as I’m concerned, I sat next to him on the bench for 28 years,” Breyer said, according to the outlet. “I like him. He’s a friend of mine. I’ve never seen him do anything underhanded or say anything underhanded.”

“My personal point of view is he’s a man of integrity,” Breyer continued. (RELATED: Dick Durbin Invites Chief Justice Roberts To Give Rare Congressional Testimony)

US Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas

Washington, UNITED STATES: US Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer (L) and Clarence Thomas smile as the justices pose for their class photo 03 March 2006 inside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Legal experts previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that reports on Thomas, including a more recent ones highlighting his failure to disclose the sale of his mother’s home to Crow and oversight in reporting that a real estate company he receives income from changed its name, are driven by a desire to influence public opinion about the justice and do not reveal true wrongdoing. Others said it reveals a double standard, given that Thomas is not the only justice who has had to amend financial disclosures.

Progressive watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into Thomas on April 14. Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin and Judiciary Committee Democrats also sent Chief Justice John Roberts a letter last week asking him to open an investigation into Thomas, followed by another letter on Thursday inviting Roberts to testify at an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court ethics rules.

Breyer touched on calls for a code of ethics, dispelling the notion that justices ignore ethics. While not bound to the judicial code that lower court judges follow, Breyer said he views issues as “whatever applies to all the judges applies to me,” according to Bloomberg Law.

Unlike lower court judges, Supreme Court justices can’t be replaced when they recuse themselves from a case, which Breyer noted makes implementing a code of ethics more difficult.

Breyer served on the court from 1994 until he retired in 2022, when he was replaced by current Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson.

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