Joy Reid: Justices Alito and Thomas Have ‘Motive’ to Delay Trump Case


The Supreme Court’s decision to hear former President Donald Trump’s immunity case in late April—postponing for several months his Washington, D.C., criminal trial for trying to overturn the 2020 election—had a “motive” behind it, MSNBC host Joy Reid said Wednesday: to allow the court’s elderly conservative justices the ability to retire under a Trump administration.

On The Reid Out, the namesake host asked New York University law professor Melissa Murray what she thought about potential motivations for the high court’s move.

While Murray stopped short of going as far as Reid, she said that the Supreme Court “is on the ballot in this election” due to the ages of Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

“It is worth flagging here that the Supreme Court, even if it doesn’t want to be in this election, is on the ballot in this election, because Justice Thomas and Justice Alito are in their seventies. If a Republican is elected, they will resign and be replaced by a Republican justice—by Republicans who are teenagers, and we will have this conservative super-majority for the next two generations,” Murray said. “So I don’t know if those are motives or considerations, but I think it has to be a factor here.”

Thomas is 75, and Alito will turn 74 a few weeks before the court hears arguments in Trump’s immunity case. Nominees of former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively, they are the two oldest justices on the bench.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Trump Immunity Arguments

Reid then said what Murray didn’t.

“Well, I am not a lawyer, and I am an opinion journalist, and I’m telling you right now, you just described the motive,” she said. “Why they would want Donald Trump to win—so that those two gentlemen can retire and take trips all the time and not just on down time for their court decisions that helped Republicans and rich people.”

Reid was alluding to Thomas’ decades-long relationship with billionaire Texas businessman Harlan Crow, who had paid for at least five of his lavish vacations, according to a ProPublica report last April, including at private resorts and on Crow’s superyacht. For decades, Thomas didn’t disclose six-figure gifts from Crow on his financial disclosure forms, the outlet reported. Thomas claimed his excursions were just “personal hospitality” and not business-related.

Earlier this month, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver addressed this controversy head-on. At the end of the Season 11 premiere, he said he would pay Thomas $1 million a year—as well as a $2.4 million motor coach—to resign immediately. Oliver’s offer will expire March 18. Thomas hasn’t responded.

Alito, too, has drawn ethics-related criticism.

A ProPublica report last June described the jurist taking a 2003 luxury fishing vacation with Paul Singer, a Republican billionaire with ties to Supreme Court cases in which Alito later voted. According to that report, Alito “appears to have violated a federal law that requires justices to disclose most gifts.”

Alito claimed that “accommodations and transportation for social events” are “commonly interpreted” as not requiring disclosure, and noted that the seat of the private jet he took there on Singer’s dime “would have otherwise been vacant.”

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