The Committee wants to review a handful of texts Ginni sent about the Capitol riot, which they feel may influence her husband’s decisions from the bench. The connection is weak, along the lines of evidence that Trump was the one who actually slapped Chris Rock, but the need to come up with a new crisis to return attention to the events of January 6 post-Ukraine is real.
The genesis of this “crisis” begins in the Hail Mary plans to use the January 6 Committee to rescue Democrats from near-certain midterm electoral defeat. Though Ginni Thomas’ conservative roots go back to the Heritage Foundation and the Tea Party, it was left to Democratic journo-operative Bob “Pooper Scooper” Woodward late last month to highlight a series of texts Ginni sent on January 6 to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The texts had been voluntarily turned over to the January 6 Committee by Meadows (who has since ceased cooperating.) Someone on the Committee leaked the texts and a not-so-spontaneous chorus of Dems, lead in part by straining-for-relevance AOC, erupted calling for Clarence to recuse himself from all cases dealing with the 2020 and 2024 elections, or resign, or face impeachment.
Read the texts online if you like, but they come no closer to influencing the Supreme Court than this article, even as one progressive magazine calls Ginni “a threat to the Court itself.” Ginni has long been the target of progressives, who falsely accused her of busing in protesters on January 6 to bolster the Capitol assault force.
So how did all this end up in Clarence Thomas’ lap? Dems discovered almost 15 months after Ginni sent those texts and after Thomas has sat on the bench for 30 years and after the pair has also been married for three decades, that this month Mrs. Thomas’ politics may be influencing her husband’s decisions. The solution is for Mr. Thomas to resign, or recuse, or be impeached while his wife is dragged before the Committee as an example of the vast conspiracy behind the coup that did not really happen on January 6.
Thomas and Ginni are far from unique; often these days modern women have jobs outside the home! And we’ll leave aside the many Washington journalists married to policy makers (Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell) people on different sides of the aisle (James Carville and Mary Matalin) and others (Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao.) There are also those other political wives with agendas of their own, including Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Dole, and Hillary. Navigating the idea that politics makes bedfellows is part of life in the capital.
Nonetheless, looking to stock the witness list for the January 6 Committee, this seems to be all the Dems have to work with, so 1950 it is! Of course it makes no sense, this idea that a wife cannot be in the same general business as her hubby, especially to a Democratic constituency built around the idea of empowering women, pink hats, and all that. But the flexibility of Democratic supporters on such matters is exemplary — look at how a group who otherwise stands for LGBT rights can’t seem to get its fill of Trump-Putin homophobia.
Nonetheless, in the interest of showing as completely as possible how shallow the Dems are on Ginni-gate, let’s look at the law and precedent.
Supreme Court justices enjoy a uniquely protected status, and are not subject to disqualification from decisions over their own activities that bear directly on cases, never mind those of their spouses.
Justice Kagan, for example, voted in favor of Obamacare despite having helped create the legal strategy to defend it as solicitor general. Justice Breyer ruled on the constitutionality of sentencing guidelines he helped write as a Congressional staffer. Justices Louis Brandeis, Thurgood Marshall, Abe Fortas, and Hugo Black had politically active wives. Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not recuse herself from cases involving her husband’s law firm.
Outside of the Supreme Court, DC Circuit Judge Nina Pillard is married to the ACLU’s litigation director. Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s wife leads an ACLU chapter. Even those instances did not violate 28 USC Section 455, the law which covers judicial recusals. You get the picture; there is no marriage penalty.
Yet a prominent New York University law professor still writes with a straight face “Ginni Thomas alone among the husbands and wives of the justices has shown utter disregard for the harm she inflicts on the court and the administration of justice in the service of her political goals.” Senator Ron Wyden says more simply “conduct on the Supreme Court looks increasingly corrupt.”
I know how Clarence Thomas must feel. I joined the State Department not long after it had phased out including diplomats’ wives on performance evaluations. The generations before me spoke in a funny/not funny way about how their bosses kept track of how many teas their wives attended, who did the right kinds of charity work, and who was too “ethnic” to fit in. Either your wife played nicely or she sat on the sidelines and your own evaluation mentioned she was a non-participant. That was generally thought of as better than a bad evaluation of her finger sandwiches.
That all seems so long ago. To watch the Democrats try and drag Ginni Thomas back into the 1950s for their own partisan purposes is as funny as it is sad. One wonders what scoop Bob Woodward might uncover next — are Ginni Thomas’ cucumber sandwiches really served with the crust still on?!?