It looks like Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, is riding the Trump train, too.
Leaked emails obtained exclusively by the Daily Beast show Ginni Thomas trying to rally support behind President Donald Trump’s agenda. If the case challenging Trump’s travel ban, one of his most controversial executive orders to date, makes it to the Supreme Court, things could get tricky for her husband.
In an email dated Feb. 3, Ginni Thomas specifically asked how she could organize local activists to advocate for the president’s policies.
“What is the best way to, with minimal costs, set up a daily text capacity for a ground-up grassroots army for pro-Trump daily action items to push back against the left’s resistance efforts who are trying to make America ungovernable?” she wrote.
“I see the left has Daily Action @YourDailyAction and their Facebook likes are up to 61K,” Thomas continued.
The attorney and founder of political lobbying firm Liberty Consulting then linked to a recent Washington Post article about the Daily Action group, which encourages anti-Trump activists to “flood the lines” of congressional offices with phone calls voicing opposition to the POTUS’ executive orders, Cabinet nominations and other relevant issues. In her email, Ginni Thomas inquired about how to create a similar call system for conservative activists.
“There are some grassroots activists who seem beyond the Republican party or the conservative movement, who wish to join the fray on social media for Trump and link shields and build momentum,” she wrote. “I met with a houseload of them yesterday and we want a daily textable tool to start. … Suggestions?”
Just last week, an appeals court declined to reinstate the president’s travel ban, which barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States and placed a temporary suspension on travel from seven predominately Muslim countries. There’s no word on whether attorneys from the Justice Department who support the ban will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. If that happens, however, Ginni Thomas’ activism could force her husband to recuse himself from the case, according to Georgetown Law School professor Heidi Li Feldman.
Feldman told The Daily Beast that Ginni Thomas’ emails pushing support for Trump’s agenda could definitely be grounds for attorneys opposing Trump’s travel ban to request that Justice Thomas remove himself, a move that would make it harder for the executive order to survive the Supreme Court.
“You can imagine circumstances easily where such conduct on the part of the spouse of a Supreme Court justice would lead to a nonfrivolous disqualification motion,” she said.
The legal ethics expert added that Ginni Thomas’ outward support of specific activism against specific issues, like the travel ban, that have the potential to go before the court, is what would make Clarence Thomas’ presence on the case very problematic.
“It’s pretty egregious,” Feldman said. “It’s pretty clear that it’s quite partisan and in context, given the date of the email and that the tool is meant to rebut activity on the left. What has the left been really active on? The executive orders. So, minimally, I would say the author of the email is thinking of that executive action.”
Norm Eisen, a Brookings Institution scholar who formerly aided the Obama administration’s ethics initiatives, also agreed that Ginni Thomas’ email seemed to allude to the controversial travel ban specifically.
“Given the timing of this email, the liberal example that Mrs. Thomas’ email cites and the nature of the matters that are in the news, one must read this email as effectively asking, ‘What is the best way to set up a daily text capacity for ground-up grassroots army for pro-Trump daily action including to defend the Muslim ban executive order cases?’ ” Eisen said.
Still, other legal ethics experts like Cornell law professor Charles Wolfram say Clarence Thomas wouldn’t necessarily have to recuse himself from cases involving the travel ban, arguing that just because you’re married to someone doesn’t mean you share the exact same views as them.
“As a matter of common sense [however], it seems to me it’s just silly for her to be emailing in this fashion,” Wolfram noted.
Ginni Thomas nor Clarence Thomas have commented on the emails as of yet.