Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan turned down an offer of bagels and lox from a group of high school friends due to concerns that it could run afoul of the court's ethics rules for accepting gifts, The Forward reports.
In February 2021, friends who attended Hunter College High School with the justice in the 1970s wanted to send her a "care package" of a range of inexpensive items, including bagels, lox, babka and chocolates.
"I somewhat tongue-in-cheek said, 'I feel so badly for her, it must be so lonely and difficult, we should send her a care package,'" Ann Starer, a Hunter College High School alumni and originator of the idea, told The Forward.
However, when Kagan voiced concerns about her acceptance of the gift presenting an issue under the Supreme Court's rules, the group abandoned the plan.
"We thought it would be a sign of support to send her some lox, but she was too ethical to take the lox," Sarah Schulman, one of the former school friends, told the outlet.
Kagan appreciated the group's offer but it was "creating more stress for her than it was worth," Starer said.
She added that Kagan emailed her, reportedly writing: "I have to take these ethics and reporting considerations very seriously."
Last month, ProPublica reported that Thomas received lavish, international trips from the Republican billionaire almost every year for decades and did not report them in his annual financial disclosures.
The investigative news outlet dropped another bombshell report last week, revealing that Crow had also paid the tuition of Thomas' great-nephew, who Thomas was the legal guardian of at the time, for two years while he attended private and boarding school in the mid-to-late 2000s. The justice also neglected to disclose those payments.
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Responding to the news of the bagel refusal, MSNBC writer Jordan Rubin compared the implications of Kagan's action with Thomas' indulgence in an article for the outlet, ultimately calling for a "binding, enforceable ethics code" for SCOTUS.
"The bagel report comes as the Senate is probing the Thomas/Crow connection and the broader issue of the Supreme Court lacking a binding ethics code. Against that backdrop, the Kagan anecdote is somewhat heartening; it might give peace of mind to the people affected by her work, whether one agrees with her opinions or not," Rubin wrote.
"But it reinforces that the same can't be said for Thomas — who, it must be pointed out, is part of the court's GOP-appointed supermajority, while Kagan is a member of its three-justice minority that can only sound the alarm when it comes to the most crucial issues," he continued, adding, "So the lighthearted bagel story merely reinforces that we cannot rely on all of the justices — especially the ones who wield the most power — to err on the side of caution or even deign to answer questions about ethics issues."
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