Rarely has so much been written about so little than the spate of recent articles from liberal journalists targeting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over the political activism of his wife, Virginia.
The central point made in all of the stories is that Thomas should recuse himself in more cases because of his wife’s involvement in conservative causes, including statements she made in support of the Jan. 6, 2021, protests in Washington.
And the justice’s response to all of it should be, and likely will be, to ignore the noise.
Unless there is some clear conflict of interest — such as his wife, another family member or a close friend being a party in a case — Thomas has the latitude to make the call.
All of these articles — the nearly 7,000-word tome in The New Yorker and the lengthy pieces by The New Republic, The Washington Post and CNN — correctly chronicle that D.C. is a small town when it comes to those in politics, and people or their spouses tend to know or have worked with each other at some point during their careers.
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer spent a good portion of her article highlighting Ginni Thomas’ work as a director of the Council for National Policy Action, which Mayer described as “a dark-money wing of the conservative pressure group” CNP that “connects wealthy donors with some of the most radical right-wing figures in America.”
Of course, when wealthy people on the left fund candidates and causes they believe in, they are doing their part to uphold democracy.
Mayer also dinged the justice’s wife for serving on an advisory board for the conservative student group Turning Point USA, which the reporter noted sent “busloads of protesters to Washington on January 6th.”
She backed that day’s protests in support of then-President Donald Trump through Facebook posts with captions such as “LOVE MAGA people!!!!” and “GOD BLESS EACH Of YOU STANDING UP OR PRAYING.”
Mayer was honest enough to report that Ginni Thomas later added a disclaimer to her posts pointing out that her comments were written “before violence in US Capitol.”
In other words, the justice’s wife shares the sentiment of millions of Republicans who have their doubts about the integrity of the 2020 election but certainly did not back those who engaged in violence on Jan. 6.
A Quinnipiac poll released in December found 77 percent of Republicans believe there was widespread voter fraud and 70 percent think President Joe Biden’s win was illegitimate.
This survey closely tracked one conducted by YouGov in which 71 percent of GOP respondents said the Biden victory was either “not legitimate” or “probably not legitimate.”
In addition to Mayer, the New Republic’s Michael Tomasky, the Post’s Michael Kranish and a trio of CNN reporters all brought up the Jan. 6 stuff clearly for the purpose of trying to paint Ginni Thomas as one of those “insurrectionists.”
And by their reasoning, that means Justice Thomas has a conflict of interest in ruling on cases involving Jan. 6.
They point out that he already ruled against one of the House Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoenas, involving Trump’s White House papers. Eight justices ruled otherwise, so Thomas’ vote was not determinative.
“Lord knows he’ll probably do it again,” the journalists clamor.
Tomasky thinks Thomas should be impeached for failing to recuse himself on a number of cases over the years, including Bush v. Gore in 2000.
His wife was working with the Heritage Foundation at the time in screening resumes for potential candidates to staff a George W. Bush administration should he become president, Tomasky wrote. And?
Are we to somehow pretend justices’ spouses do not have political viewpoints or separate careers, maybe even involving politics or the law?
Clarence Thomas worked in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. He is a conservative, as justices appointed by Democratic presidents are liberal.
Thomas and his wife likely share many of the same beliefs about politics, but that does not mean he should recuse himself every time an issue important to conservatives comes before the court.
The justice is still bound by the Constitution and has demonstrated a fidelity to it that liberals, who believe it to be a “living” document, certainly have not on many occasions.
New column: What might the Reps do w/ a liberal justice whose spouse was up to her neck in stridently ideological groups and movements? I think we know. Dems–do something! https://t.co/twrOFQpXzV Follow @newrepublic
— Michael Tomasky (@mtomasky) January 24, 2022
Justice Elena Kagan did not recuse herself from ruling on Obamacare despite being one of former President Barack Obama’s top lawyers in the role of solicitor general immediately prior to coming to the bench.
She is a liberal. It’s likely that many of the important people in her life are, too.
Some Republicans were calling for her recusal at the time of the Obamacare case, but Kagan did not do so. Nor did Thomas sideline himself when people pointed out his wife was connected to conservative groups opposed to the law.
In other words, if we trusted Kagan to decide whether to recuse herself, as a former top Obama administration official ruling on the constitutionality of her former boss’ signature legislative achievement, we can trust Clarence Thomas, too.
Leftists need to stop picking on Thomas’ wife and recognize the justice should not recuse himself simply because of her political views or work.