Capital Riot Ensnares Ginni Thomas, Wife of Supreme Court Justice


Recent revelations have exposed that Clarence Thomas’ wife attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that occurred just hours before the deadly Capitol nsurrection.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is facing calls to recuse himself from court cases related to the Jan. 6 insurrection and the 2020 election, after reporters revealed that his wife, Ginni Thomas, had sent text messages urging the Trump Administration to overturn the election and declare Donald Trump the winner.
Following the “Stop the Steal” Trump rally on Jan. 6, many participants later took part in the attack on the Capitol, which left at least seven people dead and many more injured, according to the New York Times.
The couple is facing a mounting ethics storm, including reports that the House Jan. 6 committee plans to ask Ginni Thomas to testify as part of their investigation into the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“[Ginni Thomas’] reputation, and even potential liability, is at stake,” explained Richard Hasen, an expert in election law who teaches at the University of California, in a Times article.
Hasen believes “given Ginni Thomas’s deep involvement in trying to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election based upon outlandish claims of voter fraud … Justice Thomas should not have heard any cases” that were related to the 2020 election or the Jan. 6 riots.
Recent developments could make the couple particularly vulnerable to legal trouble, as a federal judge in California recently found that former President Donald Trump had “more likely than not” broken the law and “corruptly attempted to obstruct” Congress in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, according to NPR.
On March 24, several major news outlets, including the Washington Post and CBS News, revealed that they had obtained copies of 29 text messages between Ginni Thomas and then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, which had been seized by the Jan. 6 committee as part of their ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack.
In the texts, Thomas urged Meadows to overturn the 2020 election, which she described as “obvious fraud.” Ginni Thomas was one of many to question the results of the election at the time, a stance widely considered to have culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Some of the country’s top legal scholars are calling on Clarence Thomas to withdraw from any court cases regarding the Capitol attack and the 2020 election, arguing that he would be unable to maintain impartiality due to his wife’s outspoken stance on these issues.
For Stephen Gillers, a professor at the New York University School of Law, Ginni Thomas’ comments about the 2020 election have “crossed a line,” and it is necessary for Justice Thomas to step back.
“I was prepared to … tolerate a great deal of Ginni’s political activism, … but Ginni has now crossed a line,” Gillers said in a New Yorker article. “Clarence Thomas cannot sit on any matter involving the election, the invasion of the Capitol, or the work of the Jan. 6 committee.”
The Willistonian spoke with Jesse Wegman, author and member of the New York Times editorial board. Wegman wrote a March 25 op-ed entitled “Ginni and Clarence Thomas Have Done Enough Damage.”
According to Wegman, neutrality is one of the most important parts of being a judge, and it is something that Clarence Thomas should respect.
“The job of being a judge is a very sensitive one, and it requires the people who do it to demonstrate a higher level of neutrality … than the rest of us,” Wegman explained. “Other spouses of justices have stopped doing work that could possibly be imputed to their husbands or wives, and I think that’s the right approach.”
According to VOA News, it is not uncommon for Supreme Court Justices to recuse themselves from particular cases if they believe they cannot remain impartial. For example, former Justice Stephen Breyer would frequently recuse himself from cases decided in the lower court by his brother, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, to avoid a conflict of interest.
Wegman says it makes sense that people have concerns about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, given Thomas’ unwillingness to do the right thing.
“When Clarence Thomas refuses to recuse himself from cases where his wife is involved, I think people are reasonably concerned that he does not come to those cases with an open mind, and that undermines that purpose of the court,” Wegman said.
Transparency, Wegman believes, is also integral to maintaining the integrity of the Court.
“What matters is what it looks like to the public,” he explained. “And what it looks like to the public is that communications from Clarence Thomas’ wife to members of the White House are in documents that he voted to keep withheld from the Jan. 6 committee. That’s a real concern. It’s hard not to imagine that the two things are related.”
Some believe that the Supreme Court should adopt a code of ethics that provides guidelines for maintaining neutrality when a Justice’s family is involved in a case he or she is hearing, as is currently the case with Clarence Thomas. Although federal courts operate under a code of ethics, there is a dispute as to whether it is constitutional for the Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics.
“That dispute has been going on for a long time,” Wegman said. “Congress has repeatedly tried to apply the code to the Court without success, and it’s unclear how long that’s going to play out.”
Asked if he believes the Supreme Court should have a code of ethics, Wegman told The Willistonian, “Absolutely.”