Political pundits say Clarence Thomas’ wife’s decision to participate in the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally before the attack at the nation’s capitol is an apparent conflict of interest, and now a hashtag calling for Thomas’ resignation is trending on Twitter.
While U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas voted not to release White House records for an investigation into the riot, the justice’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, admitted on March 14, that she was at the rally last year, but started to feel cold and left before the riot erupted.
Political analysts say the Supreme Court justice should have recused himself from the vote. Some say it raises questions about the court’s integrity.
“No, that’s not normal,” the ethics watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a tweet. A spiral of other tweets followed using #ClarenceThomasMustResign and #ClarenceThomasResign.
The nine justices that make up the U.S. Supreme Court are supposed to follow the motto, “Equal Justice Under Law.” The words are etched in the main entrance above the Supreme Court building and were paraphrased from the 14th Amendment. It charges the justices to be impartial and base their decisions on the law.
Under federal law, each justice must decide if a conflict of interest exists in a case and recuse themselves from the vote. Still, there is no procedure to enforce the rule, which means the justices are responsible for their own integrity.
The Supreme Court voted, 8-1, in January against Trump on releasing 770 pages of documents that experts predict could show how involved the former president was in promoting the narrative that led to the riot.
Trump claimed the election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud. The claims have been proven to be false. Thomas was the only justice who voted in support of Trump.
“That creates a clear appearance of bias and a possible major conflict of interest,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said in a tweet from March 14.
In the Washington Free Beacon interview, Ginni Thomas said her husband was not involved in her decision to attend the rally.
“Like so many married couples, we share many of the same ideals, principles and aspirations for America,” Ginni Thomas said. “But we have our own separate careers, and our own ideas and opinions too,” she said. “Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work.”
Ginni Thomas also told reporters she plans to continue her activism.
Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, told The Washington Post the fact that the justice’s wife attended the rally should be cause alone for recusal.
“Because of her participation in that rally, which then led to the breach of the Capitol, which then led to the January 6 committee … that means that you, as a justice, your impartiality still might reasonably be questioned,” Roth said.
Many political pundits have been calling for Thomas to recuse himself before his wife confirmed her attendance at the rally.
Ginni Thomas runs a political consulting firm with ties to groups that file cases in the Supreme Court. Ginni Thomas has refuted claims that she sits on the board of a conservative group that helped advance the “Stop the Steal” movement. She also openly supported the rally on social media.
After the Capitol riot, Ginni Thomas co-signed a letter demanding that U.S. Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger be removed from the bipartisan committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot and from the GOP conference.
Clarence Thomas has not spoken publicly about his wife’s revelation, but has consistently ignored the noise surrounding his wife’s activism, referring to the reporters as “tawdry” people in the media.
On March 11, three days before his wife’s interview, Thomas condemned “cancel culture” at a conservative event, saying he is concerned that it will stifle civil debate.
“I’m afraid, particularly in this world of cancel culture attack, I don’t know where you’re going to learn to engage as we did when I grew up,” he said.