Texts, emails, even occasional pillow talk exchanged between committed couples or spouses can result in either very happy or unimaginably bad endings. The most recently discussed example: Justice Clarence Thomas, who continues to face a host of questions related to ethics after reports revealed that his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, participated in aggressive efforts to help overturn the election defeat of former President Trump.
Of course it would be a stretch to assume that the opinions of one’s spouse automatically create a conflict of interest with the job responsibilities of the other spouse. However, most people aren’t married to a Supreme Court justice.
Shortly after the 2020 election, the justice’s wife allegedly exchanged dozens of text messages with Mark Meadows, then the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The messages shared ways Mrs. Thomas might employ to circumvent the will of American voters to install Trump for a second White House term despite his loss to President Biden which she called an “obvious fraud” and “the greatest heist of our history.”
Around the same time, Clarence Thomas refused to recuse himself from multiple pro-Trump legal challenges that attempted to counter the 2020 election results. Further, Thomas earlier this year cast the only dissenting vote in a Supreme Court ruling that allowed the House committee to obtain Trump White House records as investigations continue in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Ginni Thomas recently revealed in an interview with several media outlets that she had attended the “Stop the Steal” pro-Trump rally held prior to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Many of the justice’s critics believe that given his wife’s actions, he should recuse himself from any of the court’s cases or petitions related to the Jan. 6 Committee or efforts to reverse the outcome of the election. In addition, some believe Ginni Thomas’s political activities have led to an ethical dilemma and overlap with her husband’s judicial position.
Said another way, “Can Clarence Thomas maintain his objectivity?”
There remains no evidence that confirms that Ginni Thomas has influenced her husband’s opinion in cases that he has heard about Jan. 6 or the 2020 elections. But with unprecedented public distrust with the Supreme Court and their decreased opinion about the Court, and because Supreme Court justices, as opposed to those on lower federal courts, have both the authority to decide for themselves if recusal is appropriate and are not bound by a code of conduct, we believe Thomas should remove all doubts and recuse himself.
It would be for the good of all Americans and remove all doubts of impropriety or unethical dealings.