Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee called on U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday to open an investigation into the undisclosed acceptance of luxury trips taken by Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife that were paid for by a Republican megadonor.
The letter said the committee plans to hold a hearing in coming days regarding the “need to restore confidence in the Supreme Court’s ethical standards.” And if the Supreme Court does not deal with the issue on its own, the committee will consider voting on legislation. Such a measure would also need support from the Republican-led House to become law.
“But you do not need to wait for Congress to act to undertake your own investigation into the reported conduct and to ensure that it cannot happen again,” the 11 Democratic senators wrote to Roberts. “We urge you to do so.”
The nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica reported Thursday that Thomas, who has been a justice for more than 31 years, has for more than two decades accepted luxury trips from Republican donor Harlan Crow nearly every year.
Thomas, 74, and his wife, Virginia, have traveled on Crow’s yacht and private jet as well as stayed at his private resort in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, ProPublica reported. A 2019 trip to Indonesia the story detailed could have cost more than $500,000 had Thomas chartered the plane and yacht himself.
Sport’s highest court has been asked to judge a case that aims to remove Ecuador from the World Cup by no later than Nov. 10 — just 10 days before the team should face host Qatar in the opening game.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it registered appeals by the Chilean and Peruvian soccer federations against a FIFA ruling this month that Ecuador defender Byron Castillo was in fact eligible to play in the eight qualifying games he was selected for.
CAS gave no timetable for appointing judges and organizing a hearing, though said both parties appealing asked for a final award by Nov. 10.
Chile officials claim to have documents proving Castillo is actually Colombian and that Ecuador should forfeit all eight games he played in as 3-0 losses.
That legal argument was dismissed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee in June and upheld by FIFA appeal judges two weeks ago.
Ecuador placed fourth in the South American qualifying group in March and claimed a direct World Cup entry. Days later it was drawn into Group A with Qatar – playing the host on Nov. 20 in Doha -- Netherlands and Senegal.
If the qualifying games were forfeited, the revised points totals would lift Chile to fourth from seventh.
Peru placed fifth and has asked CAS to get Ecuador’s entry as the next highest placed South American team. Peru already lost an intercontinental playoff to Australia in June.
An Arizona man who convinced recent immigrants from mainly Asian countries to pay him thousands of dollars each to help them gain U.S. citizenship has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison by a federal judge in Las Vegas, authorities announced.
Court documents show Douglas Lee Thayer, 70, of Mohave Valley collected payments of between $7,000 and $20,000 from at least 160 recent immigrants by promising them the company he ran would find a family to adopt them as adults. He told the victims he would then get them new birth certificates and other documents that would let them gain U.S. citizenship.
A federal jury in Las Vegas convicted Thayer of two criminal counts of mail fraud on April. 18, and he was sentenced on Friday. He is set to surrender to start his sentence next month.
According to the indictment and a sentencing memorandum from federal prosecutors, Thayer ran a Las Vegas-based business called U.S. Adult Adoption Services. After the Justice Department announced in 2016 that it had shut down a similar scheme in Sacramento, California, Thayer offered refunds to the Asian and Hispanic immigrants.
He had charged more than $1 million in fees, but the refunds were only a fraction of what he collected, and prosecutors said he netted more than $850,000.
The owner of the Sacramento business was later sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Thayer’s victims were particularly vulnerable because they mostly were recent immigrants who spoke little English and knew little if anything about immigration law. The government does not provide an easier path to citizenship for immigrants who are adopted as adults by Americans.
“This prison sentence should serve as a warning that taking advantage of vulnerable victims, regardless of citizenship status, will be investigated and prosecuted,” U.S. Attorney for Nevada Jason Frierson said in a statement.
In pushing for a harsh sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon Kung said in his sentencing memo to U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro that Thayer “has spent his entire life committing crimes,” included armed robbery, attempted murder and rape, narcotics and the latest, fraud.
“Despite spending more than 20 years in prison prior to the instant offense, he has not been deterred from crime,” Kung wrote.
Iran told the United Nations’ highest court on Monday that Washington’s confiscation of some $2 billion in assets from Iranian state bank accounts to compensate bombing victims was an attempt to destabilize the Iranian government and a violation of international law.
In 2016, Tehran filed a suit at the International Court of Justice after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled money held in Iran’s central bank could be used to compensate the 241 victims of a 1983 bombing of a U.S. military base in Lebanon believed linked to Iran.
Hearings in the case opened Monday in the Hague-based court, starting with Iran’s arguments. The proceedings will continue with opening statements by Washington on Wednesday.
At stake are $1.75 billion in bonds, plus accumulated interest, belonging to the Iranian state but held in a Citibank account in New York.
In 1983, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with military-grade explosives attacked U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American troops and 58 French soldiers.
While Iran long has denied being involved, a U.S. District Court judge found Tehran responsible in 2003. That ruling said Iran’s ambassador to Syria at the time called “a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and instructed him to instigate the Marine barracks bombing.”
The international court ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the case in 2019, rejecting an argument from the U.S. that its national security interests superseded the 1955 Treaty of Amity, which promised friendship and cooperation between the two countries.