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“Friends of the Court” Recognized as Toner Prizes Finalist

Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications announced that “Friends of the Court” is a finalist in the 2024 Toner Prizes competition honoring excellence in political reporting.

The series, which examined Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decadeslong friendship with real estate tycoon Harlan Crow and raised questions about influence and ethics at the nation’s highest court, is nominated in the national category. ProPublica’s Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, Brett Murphy, Alex Mierjeski and Kirsten Berg contributed to the series.

In response to the reporting, Thomas for the first time acknowledged that he should have reported selling real estate to Crow in 2014. Writing in his annual financial disclosure form, Thomas said he “inadvertently failed to realize” that the deal needed to be publicly disclosed. Thomas also disclosed receiving three private jet trips from Crow, two of which ProPublica reported on. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to authorize subpoenas of Crow and conservative legal activist Leonard Leo as part of the panel’s ongoing effort to investigate ethics lapses by justices. Crow has said he never tried to influence Thomas on any matters.

See a list of all finalists in the 2024 Toner Prizes competition.

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