We’ve already heard plenty of calls from House Democrats for Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to resign because he’s apparently responsible for his wife Ginni’s political activism and views or something. AOC has continued to bang that drum this week, demanding that Thomas either resign or face impeachment. (It’s interesting how Democrats don’t have a word to say about such blatantly racist attacks on an interracial couple, isn’t it?) But most of her colleagues seem to be calming down slightly and would now be satisfied if Thomas just started recusing himself from any cases where they don’t want him to vote. This is now apparently what passes for being “reasonable” in Washington. (NBC News)
The Democratic-controlled Congress is turning up the heat on Justice Clarence Thomas with calls for him to step back from cases involving Jan. 6, after his wife was found to have actively pressured the Trump White House to change the result of the 2020 election based on false claims of fraud.
At a closed-door meeting Tuesday, House Democrats raised questions about what they could do to hold Thomas accountable.
“It’s up to an individual justice to decide to recuse himself if his wife is participating in a coup,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told them, according to a source in the room. She noted that under current law, the onus is on justices to hold themselves to account.
So the Democrats are up in arms and demanding that Thomas not only recuse himself from any cases involving the 2020 election and the January 6 riot but to accept a new Supreme Court “code of ethics” that would define situations where recusal would be mandatory.
Keep in mind that the entire discussion isn’t based on anything that Clarence Thomas himself did or said. This is based entirely on his wife as if he is somehow responsible for her words and actions. Some of Ginni Thomas’ text messages from her phone were conveniently supplied to Democrats on the January 6 committee who then immediately leaked them to the press.
All of this barking should leave us asking if these people actually understand how recusals work or even how the structure of the federal government operates. Judges recuse themselves if they were previously involved with a particular case coming before the court or with the parties involved with the case. One good example is the new nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson. She’ sits on a prestigious board at Harvard University and that board was directly involved in a case that will come before the court this fall. That’s an excellent example of when one of the justices should probably recuse themself.
Conversely, all of the allegations about what Ginni Thomas may or may not have been up to in the aftermath of the 2020 election involve only messages sent between her and other people. There has yet to be a single shred of evidence presented suggesting that Clarence Thomas was involved in any of this. Even if he had casually discussed the matter with his wife at some point, that doesn’t make him part of the story or the potentially pending cases.
As far as the “code of ethics” idea goes, it’s possible that Nancy Pelosi has forgotten that the Supreme Court is a coequal partner in running the federal government, along with Congress and the White House. The rules governing each are spelled out in the Constitution. Whether you like the system or not, the decision to recuse is left up to the discretion of the justices. It’s an extremely powerful position to be in, which reinforces the need to carefully vet and question the candidates for these lifetime positions. You might want to know, for example, if they can even define what “a woman” is. But let’s not keep beating that dead horse here today.