Clarence Thomas Estranged From Jailed Grandnephew

Business Insider speaks with Mark Martin from a South Carolina prison
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2024 11:02 AM CDT
Clarence Thomas Estranged From Jailed Grandnephew
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas joins other members of the Supreme Court as they pose for a new group portrait, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Oct. 7, 2022.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The great-nephew Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas raised "as a son" isn't feeling much like a member of the family these days. Mark Martin, who's facing decades in prison on weapons and drug charges in South Carolina, tells Business Insider that he hasn't heard from Thomas or his wife, Ginni, in years. The couple took in Martin, the grandson of Thomas' sister, at the age of 6 and became his legal guardians. Martin later attended the elite military prep school Randolph-Macon Academy and Hidden Lake Academy, a residential therapeutic treatment center, with tuition paid by Thomas' friend and conservative donor Harlan Crowe. The revelation that Thomas hadn't recorded the payments as gifts fueled a SCOTUS ethics scandal.

Martin claims the Thomases sent him away to boarding schools because they "just didn't have time to deal with" him. He adds he's rarely seen the justice and his wife since his freshman year of high school, when he began to get in trouble for minor drug use and other petty crimes. When he was eventually expelled from Randolph-Macon, Clarence and Ginni Thomas sent him back to his mother in Georgia, Martin tells BI. "I tried to communicate with them a couple of times, but I've never gotten any response," he says. "I've probably seen them two times, maybe three times, over the last 14 years."

In 2021, Martin was accused of trafficking meth and heroin, though the charges are still pending. Then last summer, he was arrested for drug trafficking and weapons possession. Ineligible for bond, he faces at least 25 years in prison under South Carolina's mandatory-minimum sentencing laws, plus at least five additional years for three charges related to the unlawful possession of a pistol. He's not sure if the Thomases know he's incarcerated but "I'm not sure they'd care too much," he says. Clarence Thomas, who was taken in by his grandfather at age 7, previously told C-SPAN he felt he'd done his duty with Martin. "I'll be able to always look my grandfather in the eye and say that I did for my great-nephew what my grandparents did for us—my brother and me," he said in 2007. (More Clarence Thomas stories.)

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