Ginni Thomas the Insurrectionist

A Supreme Court Justice's wife urged the White House and Congressional Republicans to steal the 2020 election.

WaPo (“Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show“):

Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The messages — 29 in all — reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

When Meadows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to overturn the election. “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”

It is unclear to whom Thomas was referring.

The messages, which do not directly reference Justice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Ginni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner circle to promote and seek to guide the president’s strategy to overturn the election results — and how receptive and grateful Meadows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas’s stated goals in the messages was for lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted incendiary and unsupported claims about the election, to be “the lead and the face” of Trump’s legal team.

The text messages were among 2,320 that Meadows provided to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The content of messages between Thomas and Meadows — 21 sent by her, eight by him – has not previously been reported. They were reviewed by The Post and CBS News and then confirmed by five people who have seen the committee’s documents.

Meadows’s attorney, George Terwilliger III, confirmed the existence of the 29 messages between his client and Thomas. In reviewing the substance of the messages Wednesday, he said that neither he nor Meadows would comment on individual texts. But, Terwilliger added, “nothing about the text messages presents any legal issues.”

Ginni Thomas did not respond to multiple requests for comment made Thursday by email and phone. Justice Thomas, who has been hospitalized for treatment of an infection, did not respond to a request for comment made through the Supreme Court’s public information office.

[…]

Thomas has publicly denied any conflict of interest between her activism and her husband’s work on the Supreme Court. “Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet, for an article published March 14.

Ginni Thomas, in that interview, also acknowledged that she had attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, but said that she left early because it was too cold and that she did not have any role in planning the event.

[…]

In her text messages to Meadows, Ginni Thomas spread false theories, commented on cable news segments and advocated with urgency and fervor that the president and his team take action to reverse the outcome of the election. She urged that they take a hard line with Trump staffers and congressional Republicans who had resisted arguments that the election was stolen.

In the messages, Thomas and Meadows each assert a belief that the election was stolen and seem to share a solidarity of purpose and faith, though they occasionally express differences on tactics.

“The intense pressures you and our President are now experiencing are more intense than Anything Experienced (but I only felt a fraction of it in 1991),” Thomas wrote to Meadows on Nov. 19, an apparent reference to Justice Thomas’s 1991 confirmation hearings in which lawyer Anita Hill testified that he had made unwanted sexual comments when he was her boss. Thomas strongly denied the accusations.

The first of the 29 messages between Ginni Thomas and Meadows was sent on Nov. 5, two days after the election. She sent him a link to a YouTube video labeled “TRUMP STING w CIA Director Steve Pieczenik, The Biggest Election Story in History, QFS-BLOCKCHAIN.”

Pieczenik, a former State Department official, is a far-right commentator who has falsely claimed that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was a “false-flag” operation to push a gun-control agenda.

The video Thomas shared with Meadows is no longer available on YouTube. But Thomas wrote to Meadows, “I hope this is true; never heard anything like this before, or even a hint of it. Possible???”

“Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states,” she wrote.

NYT (“Ginni Thomas Pressed Trump’s Chief of Staff to Overturn 2020 Vote, Texts Show“) adds:

In one message sent in the days after the election, she urged the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to “release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” invoking a slogan popular on the right that refers to a web of conspiracy theories that Trump supporters believed would overturn the election.

In another, she wrote: “I can’t see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences.” She added: “We just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can’t continue the GOP charade.”

The committee obtained 29 texts between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Meadows — 28 exchanged between Nov. 4 and Nov. 24, and one written on Jan. 10. The text messages, most of which were written by Ms. Thomas, represent the first evidence that she was directly advising the White House as it sought to overturn the election. In fact, in her efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power, Ms. Thomas effectively toggled between like-minded members of the executive and legislative branches, even as her husband, who sits atop the judiciary branch that is supposed to serve as a check on the other branches of government, heard election-related cases.

Justice Thomas has been Mr. Trump’s most stalwart defender on the court. In February 2021, he wrote a dissent after the majority declined to hear a case filed by Pennsylvania Republicans that sought to disqualify certain mail-in ballots. And this past January, he was the only justice who voted against allowing the release of records from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Ms. Thomas has actively opposed the Jan. 6 committee and its work, co-signing a letter in December calling for House Republicans to expel Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from their conference for joining the committee. Ms. Thomas and her co-authors said the investigation “brings disrespect to our country’s rule of law” and “legal harassment to private citizens who have done nothing wrong,” adding that they would begin “a nationwide movement to add citizens’ voices to this effort.”

Many of Ms. Thomas’s postelection texts are rambling, with little attention to punctuation, and they run the gamut. She calls Nov. 3, Election Day, a “heist,” and repeats debunked conspiracy theories, including one pushed by QAnon that falsely alleged that voter fraud had been discovered in Arizona on secretly watermarked ballots.

[…]

She also quoted language circulating on pro-Trump sites that said, “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.” She added: “I hope this is true.”

We’ve known for quite some time that Ginny Thomas was a far-right activist and have questioned the propriety of this work given her husband’s role. And we knew she had attended the Stop the Steal rally and seemed to be supportive of the overall effort.

This new insight is just deeply disturbing. Not only is she actively urging arguably the second most powerful person in the US Government, the White House Chief of Staff, to commit crimes but she’s coordinating it with powerful Members of Congress.

Beyond that, she’s clearly a serious nutcase. She’s an attorney with decades of high-level experience in DC politics and she’s credulously texting QAnon conspiracy theories and bizarre YouTube rants. It’s just deranged.

I’ve heard her husband speak a few times and even met him at a dinner for his autobiography years ago. He’s never struck me as a whacko. But constant exposure to this nonsense from one’s life partner has to have some effect.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Supreme Court, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jen says:

    But constant exposure to this nonsense from one’s life partner has to have some effect.

    This was precisely my reaction when I read this article yesterday. It’s seriously disturbing that she’s this disconnected from reality. And it makes me very, very wary of what nonsense her husband is hearing on a routine basis.

    It’s truly frightening.

    17
  2. drj says:

    This sort of understates the worst part:

    The committee obtained 29 texts between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Meadows — 28 exchanged between Nov. 4 and Nov. 24, and one written on Jan. 10. […]

    And this past January, [Thomas] was the only justice who voted against allowing the release of records from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 attack.

    These messages were actually part of the White House records that Thomas voted (as the lone dissenter) to keep from the Committee. Apparently, he knew what his wife had been doing and wanted to keep that a secret.

    Not that it’s ever going to happen, but Thomas needs to be impeached and disbarred.

    40
  3. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Two-four-six-eight
    Who should we incarcerate?

    13
  4. gVOR08 says:

    Thank you for noting that Ginny is a Looney Tune, as well as a RW activist. And that he didn’t recuse in a case that directly affected his wife. And her activism amounts to a scheme to monetize his seat. But Jackson once issued a sentence for child porn in line with other judges, and her kids’ school library has books, so bothsides.

    22
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Thank you for noting that Ginny is a Looney Tune, as well as a RW activist.

    But then, you repeat yourself.

    And that he didn’t recuse in a case that directly affected his wife.

    SNAFU.

    And her activism amounts to a scheme to monetize his seat.

    And the opening bid is…

    But Jackson once issued a sentence for child porn in line with other judges, and her kids’ school library has books, so bothsides.

    Just another day ending in “Y”.

    3
  6. CSK says:

    Thomas always appears a bit cowed around Ginni.

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Good to see you back safely, especially after all those tornadoes in Louisiana.

    1
  7. KM says:

    One of the insidious ways abusive relationships keep you trapped is the fear of escalation if you break the status quo. Yeah, you get hit daily but the one time you tried to leave, he broke your leg so you stay quiet. Yeah he shows up at your workplace to extort things from you but if you don’t agree, he makes a scene to get you fired like at the last job. This fear stops you from taking the chance to break free of the cycle – better the pain you know. What this means however is the abuser is free to do whatever horrible thing they please and escalate the abuse, confident that the knowledge they’ve instilled an effective safeguard against consequences.

    Nothing’s gonna be done about this. His wife was actively trying to overthrow the government (for some time I might add) and he used his position of power to protect and conceal that from a legal body. One could make an argument he’s an accomplice after the fact and thus criminal himself. He’ll never be impeached though for fear of the GOP trying to impeach every Dem appointed judge now that “the norm’s been broken”. Can’t unring the bell and all that. Much like there’s enough evidence to get Trump on several charges in NY but nobody’s brave enough to cross the threshold of “ex-Prez”. The fear that an abuser might retaliate lets them get away with so much because you fear the big sharp pain, not the constant agony. The criming continues because they’ve established that they *WILL* inflict severe damage on America if you don’t do as they say so it’s easier to just accept the daily beating. Better than the broken bone, right? Learn to live with an eternal black eye instead…..

    13
  8. Scott says:

    When Meadows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to overturn the election. “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

    This quote from Dune (the book) immediately came to mind.

    “When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”

    There is a serious Christian Nationalism problem in this country and the mainstream keeps averting their eyes.

  9. Scott says:

    When Meadows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to overturn the election. “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

    This quote from Dune (the book) immediately came to mind:

    “When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”

    There is a serious Christian Nationalism problem in this country and the mainstream continues to avert it eyes.

    13
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I slept right thru them. Which, considering there are no basements or storm shelters* in NOLA, is probably the best course anyway.

    *none underground anyway, I’m sure there are houses built to withstand 150 MPH winds, but not my most.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott:

    There is a serious Christian Nationalism problem in this country

    And Amy Coney Barrett is the poster child for this. Remember, she’s a member of an extremist religious group that does not share what its beliefs and practices are with outsiders.

    11
  12. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: @KM: So, two things. First, there’s no indication he saw the records in question or had any reason to think his wife’s texts were part of the case. Second, the vote was 8-1 and it’s not a secret ballot. So, he knew that his vote was only symbolic. If he was trying to facilitate a cover-up, he’d have made it unanimous.

    6
  13. Kingdaddy says:

    It’s inevitable that we’ll hear the “good man saddled with a crazy wife, poor fellow” excuse. But what shreds that almost instantly is the 8-1 vote, with Thomas as the only Justice who sided with Trump’s request to bar access to White House records. The sole vote, and not a word of explanation, on a case directly involving his wife. It’s beyond belief that she never told him that her text messages to Meadows, or whatever else involving her might be in those records, would be part of his ruling.

    Maybe this is a test of whether “the integrity of the Supreme Court” has any meaning left. If Thomas doesn’t resign, after directly and knowingly protecting his insurrectionist, extremist wife, then the reputation of the Court may suffer the most crippling blow since, well, ever. More people and institutions pulled into the whirlpool of MAGA excrement. Wait, that’s a bad metaphor. This story involves someone who dove into it willingly, and a Supreme Court justice knowingly and willingly followed her in.

    At least we all can see clearly how some people believe that this nation and its government are theirs, not all of ours.

    33
  14. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    First, there’s no indication he saw the records in question or had any reason to think his wife’s texts were part of the case.

    Other than basic common sense and even the slightest sense of what married couples talk about.

    I don’t see any reason we should be in, “unless we have a smoking gun we have to assume good faith” mode. That would be naive in the extreme.

    23
  15. Chris says:

    The unreal world that exists between her ears is truly frightening given her influence and proximity to her husband, as well as her behind the scenes leadership position in the insurrectionist movement. God save the USA from these delusional, self-consumed beings bent on wielding unfettered political power.

    7
  16. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    First, there’s no indication he saw the records in question or had any reason to think his wife’s texts were part of the case.

    Your trust in your betters is heartwarming.

    I know this sounds mean (which isn’t entirely unintentional, to say the least), but this really looks like grasping for straws.

    You wouldn’t be quite so charitable if we were talking about Hillary Clinton, for instance. You know this to be true, I’m pretty sure, if you were honest about it.

    21
  17. Kingdaddy says:

    @James Joyner: James, I appreciate your effort to not let speculation run too far ahead of the facts, but, really, come on. We’re expected to believe that (a) she didn’t tell him, (b) he had no knowledge of his wife’s contacts with the MAGA crowd behind the Stop The Steal campaign, (c) he had no idea of his wife’s active, public support of the Stop The Steal campaign, (d) he had no occasion before the Supreme Court ruled on the release of the records to suspect that his wife might have done some behind the scenes campaigning on January 6th, (e) after the case came to the Court, he did zero diligence to look into a definite possibility that his wife was involved, and (f) after not recusing himself, he saw no reason to explain why he was the sole Justice ready to shield the White House records from the January 6th committee, in spite of the fact that his wife was playing Twister with all of the people covered in those records.

    Even if he were a complete unwitting moron, we’re talking about the biggest internal threat to the American government and rule of law since the Civil War. Wherever Thomas falls on the spectrum between unwitting dupe and knowing accomplice, his continued tenure will further erode the legitimacy of the Court, at a time when there will be further cases before the Court about January 6th, the actions of people in the Trump Administration, the power of the law over the Presidency, and other issues vital to the survival of our political order.

    40
  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Chris: She’s a pretty good example of what can happen when a hysterical grievance-pump, prone to wild fantasies, gets actual power.

    5
  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I guess when you consider that Republicans actually stole a SCOTUS seat, then this isn’t THAT out there.
    I imagine that there are many similar relationships across our system. But this is an extreme situation in that the the entire episode is extreme. Thomas was involved in an effort to overthrow the Government. Read that again. And again.
    Our Government has always depended on unwritten norms and traditions in order to continue to operate and function. What Republicans apparently decided some time ago is that they don’t need to persuade people and win elections if they simply ignore those norms and traditions in order to wield power over Democrats who are still committed to those norms and traditions.
    The frustrating thing, if you love this country, is that nothing will be done about this.
    There will be a lot of blah, blah, blah. And then nothing.

    2
  20. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “First, there’s no indication he saw the records in question or had any reason to think his wife’s texts were part of the case”

    It is truly astonishing how far backwards you’re willing to bend to defend this man. You really think he had no idea that his wife was communicating with the White House as she tried to overthrow the government? You think she was waiting to let him know until after a violent coup had ended the democracy he was supposed to be defending?

    19
  21. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    had any reason to think his wife’s texts were part of the case

    This is an odd assumption, @James. Even if he knew nothing of his wife’s work or political proclivities (rather doubtful considering her overt Q-ness), the news has been covering speculation about her being involved for a while now and how it affects him professionally. At the *VERY* least, he should have recused himself for appearance’s sake; the chance she’d come up were high and conflict of interest means he shouldn’t have been in a position to have to make that choice.

    He had good reason to suspect her fingerprints were somewhere in there. He’d have to be unobservant AF to not notice his wife’s complaints about the election and content creation thereof for months prior – when you’re Q, it’s pretty obvious to everyone since you can’t shut up about it. He knew she’s an activist and actively talking to people in the Trump Admin about issues. He knew the Trump Admin was actively pushing the Big Lie and taking public steps to try and circumvent the election. It does not take a genius to guess Ginni would appear or be referenced in those records or texts listed in the case in some way.

    9
  22. mattbernius says:

    This seems like a good moment to point out that unlike the Federal District Courts and Federal Circuit Courts, there is no Judicial Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court. Congress could enact one, but that type of oversight would not make it through the Senate.

    Right now the only action Congress can easily take is for the House to pass a statement condemning Thomas’s behavior. At a stretch, they could impeach him (and probably should). Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Cheney and the other Republicans on the 1/6 committee would join. The Senate definitely acquits (with no Republicans crossing over) and the entire thing becomes a midterm turnout issue.

    I suspect that Roberts would love to show Thomas the door, but without getting the majority of the Conservative wing on his side, I don’t see that happening either (and under no circumstances do I think Kavanaugh and Alito would support such a push–especially under a Democratic President and Senate).

    5
  23. Jen says:

    The biggest reason that Clarence Thomas would have/should have known that his wife’s texts were involved in this situation?

    It’s a virtual certainty that he knew she had Mark Meadow’s cell number. That alone should have been enough. Anything else strains credulity.

    6
  24. I started my career studying Latin America in a period of time when elites often sided with authoritarians over democracy for their own political ends–it is disconcerting to constantly seeing this here in the US. Further, it is one thing for Trump cronies to come in and behave this way, yet another for someone who has a long-term connection to the American government both by marriage and career to behave this way. It just underscore how fragile our system really is.

    Further, that she thought Sidney Powell had a serious case speaks volumes about her intelligence. Further, it is one thing for some rando to watch FNC and get that impression, yet another for someone whose husband is Supreme Court Justice to think this way.

    28
  25. Scott O says:

    “This new insight is just deeply disturbing.”

    Yes, but that’s also how I would describe the last 5 years.

    7
  26. KM says:

    Ultimately, what he did or didn’t know doesn’t matter.

    Caesar’s wife must be above reproach.

    He’s part of the 3 co-equal highest branches of governments but married to a conspiracy theorist actively trying to subvert rule of law and overthrow said democratically elected government. There’s proof she’s involved in Jan 6 in some potentially significant way.

    He should have stepped aside and not used his power to make a decision on this. He is wrong, period. No benefit of the doubt owed – he should know better what conflict of interest is and why as a judge, he shouldn’t be seen courting it.

    14
  27. Neil Hudelson says:

    Clarence Thomas was supposed to have been released from the hospital Tuesday-ish. I’ve seen speculation as to why he’s still in the hospital, but as far as I’m aware neither the hospital nor Clarence has any obligation to announce when he’s been released.

    I think this is likelier the real reason there’s been no news from the Thomas’s.

    2
  28. senyordave says:

    @James Joyner: First, there’s no indication he saw the records in question or had any reason to think his wife’s texts were part of the case.
    It seems like this comment might be more appropriate a week from today, on April 1st.

    5
  29. R. Dave says:

    @Kingdaddy: @James Joyner: James, I appreciate your effort to not let speculation run too far ahead of the facts, but, really, come on.

    Yeah, “We can’t be sure he knew his wife’s text messages were likely part of the requested disclosure,” is definitely not a credible defense of Thomas here. The credible defense would be to argue that Thomas’s honest legal judgment and personal interests just happen to align here, and he, rightly or wrongly, believes that he’s able to cleanly separate the two and therefore shouldn’t have to recuse himself. I don’t think that’s really the case here – I think he was just acting out of straight-up political partisanship and self-interest – but at least that would be a plausible argument on his behalf.

    1
  30. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: @drj: @Kingdaddy: To be clear, I’m not suggesting that he was oblivious to his wife’s general involvement; I have no idea if he knew about the texts in question. My point is more narrow. According to the NYT report quoted above, “he was the only justice who voted against allowing the release of records from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 attack.”

    So,

    1. There’s no reason CT would have known GT’s text messages with the WH COS would be part of that discovery, even if he knew about said texts.

    2. The fact that he knew he was the sole dissenting vote rather means he knew the records were going to be released regardless of his vote. Which suggests that the vote was about his expansive view of Executive Privilege, not protecting her.

    7
  31. Scott F. says:

    These revelations juxtaposed against the performative vileness Republican Senators are directing at Ketanji Brown Jackson fills me with despair.

    Truly horrific people have enormous power in our country, they are completely detached from facts, and they fervently believe they are on God’s side. How does a country survive such a condition?

    13
  32. Kathy says:

    @Chris:

    The unreal world that exists between her ears

    Nature abhors a vacuum. When there is no brain between the ears, something else must sill up that space.

    2
  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    We now have – based solely on what has already been reported – a conspiracy to overthrow our Government that reaches into all three branches of that Government.
    If Reynolds wrote this story the reviews would say “…a gripping tale, but ultimately not believable.”
    It’s no wonder that USAG Garland and Bragg, the Manhattan DA, are scared shitless of this powder-keg and refuse to go near it.
    Half of DC would be getting perp-walked.

    6
  34. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    The fact that he knew he was the sole dissenting vote rather means he knew the records were going to be released regardless of his vote. Which suggests that the vote was about his expansive view of Executive Privilege, not protecting her.

    Or he expected his colleges to have his back on this or just be pro-Trump in general, not unreasonable considering 2 of them are Trump appointees that fall in line with the GOP quite readily. Let’s be honest here – there’s a non-zero chance the conservatives on the Court have someone in their immediate sphere that could be considered problematic like this. Ginni’s put herself out there as the nut to watch but there’s lingering questions about who paid off Kav’s debts on the sly and Barrett hangs out with a crowd not unlike Ginni’s. Perhaps he mistakenly thought he wouldn’t the only dissent so it wouldn’t looks so bad – 7-2 still sucks but it’s not him by his lonesome raising questions.

    Or he did it to keep peace at home. No honey, I didn’t vote to air your dirty laundry to people who could send you to jail. Pass the salad!

    3
  35. a country lawyer says:

    @James Joyner:

    “The fact that he knew he was the sole dissenting vote rather means he knew the records were going to be released regardless of his vote. Which suggests that the vote was about his expansive view of Executive Privilege, not protecting her.”

    James, I think this ignores the procedure the Court follows in issuing an opinion. After the case has been argued, the Justices meet in conference, discuss the case, and announce how they will vote. The senior Justice in the majority assigns a Justice to write the majority opinion. The senior Justice in the minority does the same. The fact that Thomas wrote a dissent indicates that he argued in conference to keep the e-mails and texts secret. He could hardly argue in conference one way and then in the Court’s opinion vote the opposite.

    The question which then arises is, did he tell his fellow Justices that he had a personal interest in voting the way he did?

    This committee can make its own judgement on that issue.

    5
  36. Kathy says:

    Now, first of all firsts, this is not a court of law and we’re not looking to establish reasonable doubt for Clarence.

    11
  37. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: I concede your number 2 point, although I don’t think it really means anything, since an unsuccessful attempt to help his wife* is still an attempt. But I don’t understand what you are driving at here:

    1. There’s no reason CT would have known GT’s text messages with the WH COS would be part of that discovery, even if he knew about said texts.

    If we presume he knew of his wife’s activities, including the fact that she was present at the rally and that she was in constant contact with various White House officials (over the course of the many years, not just around this event), then it seems likely that she would come up in the subpoenaed documents. Yet you seem to be saying the opposite. Or am I misunderstanding your position?

    *and perhaps himself – after all, the Republicans on this court have participated in blatantly political activities with some regularity. It is not unreasonable to suspect Clarence was more than just a passive observer of his wife’s efforts

    4
  38. dmichael says:

    Not to pile on, (but realizing that I am), those who wish to believe that Justice Thomas was unaware of the possibility that his wife’s texts would be in the material sought by the Jan 6 Committee, please consider: Jane Meyer’s New Yorker article on Ginni Thomas (two issues ago?) and Ginni’s quoted use of “[t]his plus a conversation with my best friend just now,” in one of her messages to Meadows, confirms she discussed this very issue with Justice Thomas. They both have publicly said that each uses “my best friend” to refer to each other. Clarence knew, refused to recuse and should (but won’t) be impeached. As to the reputation of the Supremes, it is already in the toilet along with the presidential records Trump attempted to flush.

    16
  39. inhumans99 says:

    @Scott:

    Without reading the rest of the replies in this thread, I just want to say Scott that I feel that a whole lot of people are aware of the issue, but we are seeing what could happen if a Megalomaniac like Trump and friends gets to steer the ship of the country again, you end up with two countries fighting each other (our in our case it would most likely be a Civil War again). We are seeing this in real time with Russia fighting Ukraine.

    I suspect that the Christian Nationalists look at most Liberals like Putin looked at most Ukrainians, as folks that would just be powerless if they stepped all over our lives and felt we would just have to grin and bear it. That we are all seeing that Ukrainians had much more fight in them than expected, well the not totally insane Christian Nationalists (i.e, the folks who are not Ginni Thomas), that has to give some folks against Democracy pause.

    The Nationalists want a bloodless coup/takeover of the country to take place on their watch, but looking at the Russia/Ukraine war, I just have one message for them, good luck with that.

    4
  40. a country lawyer says:

    @a country lawyer: Sorry for the italics. An edit function would have been nice.

    1
  41. a country lawyer says:

    @a country lawyer: One point which I failed address above is that while Thomas dissented, he did not issue an opinion, so there is no way of knowing if he dissented on his view of executive privilege or for personal reasons.

    5
  42. Neil Hudelson says:

    @dmichael:

    They both have publicly said that each uses “my best friend” to refer to each other.

    I can’t find this in the January article by Mayer, and searching Thomas’s name plus that phrase is giving me way too many hits talking about the text message revelation. Do you by chance have a source for this handy?

    1
  43. gVOR08 says:

    IIRC Dr. T has mentioned Juan Linz’ critique of presidential systems. Over at LGM Paul Campos expands this to the Court.

    This situation creates an interesting twist on Juan Linz’s famous critique of presidential systems. Linz argued that such systems are inherently unstable in any society that features ideologically coherent and disciplined parties, because the legislature and the executive both have strong claims to representing the sovereign power in that society, which leads to intractable conflict when these two branches are split between parties.

    What this analysis leaves out is that the situation becomes even more incoherent in a system such as the American one, which features a tradition of aggressive judicial review by federal courts in general and the Supreme Court in particular. This in effect creates a third claimant to the sovereign power: one that is both much less democratically accountable than either the legislature or the executive, and at the same time capable of exercising something close to an absolute veto over either of them, because of our tradition of judicial supremacy – a tradition invented, of course, by the very branch that exercises it.

    That last is of course a reference to Marbury v Madison in which the Supremes took it on themselves to declare themselves supreme in interpreting the Constitution. A situation which, with a 6-3 GOP majority, may be about to bite us bad. (5-3 if Thomas ever does the right thing and recuses himself from any 1/6 related case.) But I honestly can’t see any reasonable alternative. Somebody has to have the final say.

    2
  44. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Neil Hudelson: @dmichael:

    Nevermind! Found it on Mayer’s twitter feed (https://twitter.com/JaneMayerNYer/status/1507113423087222809):

    “After talking with her “best friend,” which is how the Thomases refer to one another, Justice Thomas’s wife militates relentlessly for the president’s chief of staff to overturn a presidential election. Time for a SCOTUS Ethics Code yet?

    1
  45. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: As I think about it, I suppose we could have a separate Constitutional Court. Or a Head Parliamentarian, similar to the Senate Parliamentarian. Or an Office of Parliamentary Counsel. But any such scheme is just a new label on the same can of worms. Geo. Washington thought President Geo. Washington should have the final word. I trust after TFG no one will make an argument for that.

  46. steve says:

    Of course Thomas knew. There is zero chance he will be impeached with a Democrat as POTUS. I really cant think of anything he would realistically do, like lie to cover up for his wife, take a bribe in some form or anything that would not be justified by Republicans. The Supreme has not had curability for along time, only with those who want it to be true so much that they ignore reality. So its entertaining to discuss this and it confirms a lot of feelings but thesis going nowhere.

    Steve

    6
  47. Jay L Gischer says:

    This is clearly the most politicized partisan court we have ever had. We’re not going to get rule of law back except by political action. It’s going to take strong majorities in favor of rule of law to re-establish it. I’m not sure how we’re going to get them. Our cultural life has wandered far away from rule of law, with “heroes” breaking laws in the name of justice and righteousness all the time.

    I recall discussions with friends which seemed to indicate that they valued advancement of womens rights (in Muslim countries) over rule of law. I remember feeling that this stuff leads to a bad place, and well, here we are.

    Now, I don’t think that opinion of my friends has the same weight as people actively seeking to undo the result of a lawfully conducted election. It’s just that rule of law has a very weak constituency.

    4
  48. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It’s no wonder that USAG Garland and Bragg, the Manhattan DA, are scared shitless of this powder-keg and refuse to go near it.

    I think it goes beyond fear of a powder keg, and fear of the difficulty of conviction. As Wilhoit said, there must be a group of people protected by the law but not bound by it. I think we tend to underestimate the loyalty of that group to the group and the system. Garland and Bragg are part of the group.

    I keep returning to the same point, that the MAGAts are right to feel they’ve been screwed over by our elites. We all have. But they have a twisted view of who the elites are and what to do about it.

    3
  49. Scott says:

    Am I too cynical?

    Legal Scholars Are Shocked By Ginni Thomas’s “Stop the Steal” Texts

    I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

    4
  50. Gustopher says:

    Wouldn’t someone gathering the information for potential discovery have noticed? And wouldn’t they have had an obligation to notify the lawyers and the justices involved that there was a clear conflict of interest?

    We will never know whether Justice Thomas considered the possibility on his own (we can strongly suspect), but we should be able to identify who did know, and whether they had a legal obligation — and refer them to their state bar association.

    2
  51. Gustopher says:

    I’ve heard her husband speak a few times and even met him at a dinner for his autobiography years ago. He’s never struck me as a whacko. But constant exposure to this nonsense from one’s life partner has to have some effect.

    I see no reason to assume that he is remotely innocent here. She might be Q-pilled because of the constant exposure to this nonsense from her life partner.

    3
  52. Just nutha says:

    @Kingdaddy: I read stuff like that and accept that he’s looking for the road back to his party. Sorry. 🙁

    3
  53. Just nutha says:

    @inhumans99: I’m not sure that “Christian Nationalists” and “not totally insane” fit together like you do.

  54. Just nutha says:

    @Just nutha: last sentence should probably end with “are” instead of “do” like it am.

    1
  55. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gustopher:

    And wouldn’t they have had an obligation to notify the lawyers and the justices involved that there was a clear conflict of interest?

    I asked my live-in Federal law expert about this today. To my surprise, her reaction was that (from a technical perspective) this probably would not be considered a “clear conflict of interest.” As a term of legal art, “Conflict of Interest” has a more restricted meaning (versus the colloquial meaning that we’d all agree to).

    Does this have the air of impropriety? Hell yes. Is it unethical? Hell yes.

    But (and Country Lawyer and HL92 please jump in) this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a conflict of interests.

    This is also where again I remind that part of the problem is there is no established ethical code of conduct for Supreme Court justices.

    3
  56. de stijl says:

    I’m a bit torn on this.

    Obviously spouses of famous folks can have their own lives, do their own thing, and more power to ’em in my book.

    But in this instance it is really troubling. It’s the Supreme Court, ffs. The ultimate decider. The folks who gave us George Bush in a “no backsies” decision.

    Obviously, no prior restraint. No government censorship. She has her rights.

    But, her behavior raises a lot of questions. It’s really problematic. She is a big-time R activist. Advocated to overturn an election result she did not fancy.

    Certain government jobs and all military jobs contractually forbid you from certain political involvement. That does not apply to your spouse / partner.

    But it looks fishy. A recusal would have been appropriate. It smells fishy.

    I don’t like Thomas. I think he is a joke and a hack, but he was duly appointed and approved.

    But this situation stinks to high heaven. It looks like corruption, it smells like corruption.

    4
  57. Gustopher says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    It’s beyond belief that she never told him that her text messages to Meadows, or whatever else involving her might be in those records, would be part of his ruling.

    I’m not sure I agree on this narrow point. She may have assumed they wouldn’t be, because laws are for little people, or she sends so many insane texts that a few to Meadows is forgotten, or any of the thousand of other reasons we tell ourselves that our actions have no consequences.

    People jump through all sorts of insane mental gymnastics to pretend that shit isn’t about to hit the fan.

  58. de stijl says:

    Ginni Thomas is not a conservative. She’s a radical. By her own speech.

    (Cue my rant about definitions of “conservative”. Right-wing radicals are radicals and definitively not conservatives.)

    4
  59. Gustopher says:

    @Matt Bernius: Thomas will say nothing about this, and it will fade into the background only remembered by a few cranks. The Supreme Court is above ethics. Nothing will happen.

    I’m far more curious about the people who enable it — did someone else have a responsibility to disclose information, and are they willing fall on a sword to protect the Thomases from continued embarrassment?

    The sword wants blood. It’s thirsty. If we cannot get the guy at the top, get an underling or two.

    2
  60. Jay L Gischer says:

    Ron Wyden is calling for Thomas to recuse himself on any further cases involving 1/6. I endorse this. So this is about the future not the past, which to me is a good political stance. What do y’all think? Is a “chinese wall” of the form “we don’t talk about work” going to be good enough? It isn’t for me.

    1
  61. Grewgills says:

    @James Joyner:
    He almost certainly knew the texts could be in there and chose to vote against the release.
    A third option as to why he chose to vote as he did is that if he didn’t vote against the release there’d be hell to pay when he got home. Idle speculation, maybe, but with that level of loon at home I wouldn’t bet against it.

  62. de stijl says:

    Many, many years back I was in Liquor Lyle’s watching Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. We wanted food, so we got a booth. We watched the confirmation session.

    Jody, Bob, and I were just sort of jawing about it. Eating beef ribs and fries. Drinking beer.

    I distinctly remember turning to Jody and saying “this guy is a bad guy. I am picking up major negative shit off this cat. He creeps me out.” She agreed.

    Turns out we were right.

    —–

    I love Liquor Lyle’s, but back then their food sucked. Granted, they could do a fine-ass burger and fries. But deep menu items routinely sucked. Looking back, the beef ribs were horribly overcooked and tough and kinda gross. I was into it at the time. I was young.

    The ribs were bad-ass. This huge, honking meat popsicle what with the handle bone.

    Beef ribs should not be on the menu in a joint like this. It was a bar bar, not a bar & grill.

    You’re going to want braise or confit a hefty beef rib. Cook it through. Then a brief sear in a screaming hot pan.

    I am such an annoying foodie nerd now.

    Even back then Liquor Lyle’s did some bad-ass burgers.

  63. becca says:

    Whether there’s illegality is a minor point. Certainly, it doesn’t pass an ethical smell test and that stench wafts thru Thomas’s chambers. This White Christian Nationalism bullshit needs some spotlight and she’s a poster child.

    The SC should cut bait with the Mr and Mrs Thomas. They are becoming a liability.

  64. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: It’s not hard. His wife is a lobbyist. She gets paid to promote certain things, including things directly related to the election and Jan 6th. Their joint income goes up according to her success on lobbying for those things. Thomas should recuse himself on anything she lobby’s on. It’s not even close.

    3
  65. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    did someone else have a responsibility to disclose information, and are they willing fall on a sword to protect the Thomases from continued embarrassment?

    FWIW, her out of the blue comment that she had been to the rally but left before Trump told them to March on the capital immediately aroused my bullshit detectors. If I were a betting man I’d give odds that she was more deeply involved than just as a spectator on that day, and she was deep into it all day long.

    I also read her sudden memo to all her staff and associates about how they are all one big family as a message, “families don’t rat each other out”.

    5
  66. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: Thomas’s failure to disclose some of Ginni’s employment on his annual disclosure reports should have been a red flag, especially when his reason boiled down to “I didn’t understand the form.”

    The whole thing is fishy AF, and while it’s (I guess?) nice that it’s finally getting attention, they both seem pretty dodgy to me.

    Justice Thomas was apparently discharged from the hospital this morning, according to CNN.

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen:

    “I didn’t understand the form.”

    Aren’t Justices these days supposed to be the finest legal minds in the country? GOPs pretend that Ds started contentious hearings with their opposition to Bork and Thomas. In both cases, subsequent events seem to vindicate the Ds judgement.

    Thomas is Yale Law. I will reiterate my view that maybe we should shut down Harvard and Yale Law until we understand what’s going on. One gets the impression they mostly teach unbridled ambition. (Bork got his JD from Chicago, but taught at Yale.)

    5
  68. Jen says:

    This whole NYT opinion column is worth a read, but notably:

    Ms. Thomas’s efforts, and her husband’s refusal to respond appropriately, have been haunting the court for years, but this latest conflagration shouldn’t be a close call. “The texts are the narrowest way of looking at this,” Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor and one of the nation’s foremost legal-ethics experts, told me. “She signed up for Stop the Steal. She was part of the team, and that team had an interest in how the court would rule. That’s all I need to know.” He said he has over the years resisted calling for Justice Thomas’s recusal based on his wife’s actions, “but they’ve really abused that tolerance.”

    Yes, yes they have.

    From the Affordable Care Act to the Trump administration’s Muslim ban to the 2020 election challenges, Ms. Thomas has repeatedly embroiled herself in big-ticket legal issues and with litigants who have wound up before her husband’s court. All the while, he has looked the other way, refusing to recuse himself from any of these cases. For someone whose job is about judging, Justice Thomas has, in this context at least, demonstrated abominably poor judgment.

    Indeed.

    5
  69. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: Serendipity. Right after writing that Yale and Harvard Law seem to be a source of problems, I pulled up WAPO and found Dana Milbank’s column, Ivy League Republicans’ phony rebellion against the ‘elites’. He went into more detail on Cotton, Hawley, Cruz, Kennedy, and a list of state candidates.

  70. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:

    …because laws are for little people, or she sends so many insane texts that a few to Meadows is forgotten…

    Pour quoi pas les deux?

  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: “Thomas’s failure to disclose some of Ginni’s employment on his annual disclosure reports should have been a red flag, especially when his reason boiled down to ‘I didn’t understand the form.'”

    Thomas is filling out the form himself rather than having it done by some paralegal at the office of his lawyer? Really? We’re supposed to believe this?

    6
  72. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It is hard.

    We are debating about rights. Ginni Thomas clearly has all rights. I don’t like or approve of her speech, but it is guaranteed.

    There is no ethics clause for sitting Supreme Court justices. That is the problem. It’s all ad hoc and self-serving. Performative bullshit.

    I do not assume anything. Thomas may have been utterly unaware of his wife’s texts. We don’t know.

    I hope so, or else the whole system is irredeemable corrupt. It stinks like a fish. Recuse yourself, please.

    Ginni Thomas has the right to be an activist asshole. On this, I am full force for her. Don’t like it, but that is not the point.

    1
  73. de stijl says:

    Thomas is a toady and a sychophant. Essentially, a sure motivated vote for his team, but basically a low-energy hack.

    Bork on the bench would have been a nightmare. We dodged a bullet there. A never ending constitutional crisis averted.

    1
  74. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Ginni Thomas has the right to be an activist asshole. On this, I am full force for her. Don’t like it, but that is not the point.

    Agreed, but … I think we shouldn’t be treating sitting on the Supreme Court as a right for Thomas, as we currently do (no ethics rules, etc).

    It’s utterly appropriate to mitigate lobbying by a Supreme Court Justice’s spouse when the solution isn’t a violation of the spouse’s rights, but by revoking the privilege of the Justice to sit on the court. Enforced recusal, removal, whatever. And, alternately, if Ginni wants to curtail her career for her husband’s — that’s fine.

    Couples routinely make decisions and sacrifices for the career of one or the other — do we move to City X for this great job for the one, even if it is a problem for the other, etc.

    Just because the couple is well connected Washington elite doesn’t mean they should be immune from those. Sometimes you cannot have both A and B, and when you tie your life to another person, you have to make those choices together.

    5
  75. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    There is no proof Clarence Thomas knew beforehand.

    A reasonable person could assume so, but we do not know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    I, myself, assume so, but that is irrelevant.

    What we need are concrete guidelines about ethics.

    1
  76. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I absolutely agree on the recusal. 100%. I argued for it explicitly. Should have happened. In a just world, it would have happened.

    I am unsure why you think I don’t believe that. I actively advocated for that. There is text, ffs.

    Am I that unclear? I thought I was being brutally straightforward.

  77. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    2. The fact that he knew he was the sole dissenting vote rather means he knew the records were going to be released regardless of his vote. Which suggests that the vote was about his expansive view of Executive Privilege, not protecting her.

    I think this is a key point. Let’s assume Thomas knew everything about what his wife was doing – what self-interest does he have in being the lone vote against and opening himself up to all the accusations and calls for impeachment?

    Ultimately we don’t know Thomas’ real rationale because the evidence, so far, points in both directions.

    1
  78. Kathy says:

    @Andy:

    “Impeachment? Don’t talk to me about Impeachment. Are you kidding me? Impeachment? I just hope we can win an election. Another election.”

    With apologies to Jim Mora.

    1
  79. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: Quite agree that Ginni has a right to do what she’s doing. (And re recent discussions of cancelling, the rest of us have a right to call her a RW fruitcake. As the supposedly liberal MSM should be doing.) As long as Justice Thomas recuses when any interest of hers is involved. And that requires that the two of them fully disclose what she’s doing. OK, I’m describing how, by rights, things should be. As they are, Justices police themselves, which is to say they are not policed at all.

    @Andy: We’re talking about recusal, not criminal prosecution. He is not entitled to any presumption of innocence. He’s the one complaining about respect for the Court. It’s time for him to behave respectably.

    1
  80. Chip Daniels says:

    What is being revealed by these texts and more importantly by the silence of Republicans, is that the entire Republican Party has now become not a conventional political party, but an insurrectionist faction dedicated to seizing power by whatever means.

    It has to be treated as the threat to democracy that it is.

    12
  81. DK says:

    @Andy: You and Dr. Joyner presume Thomas cares about not being accused of impropriety or that calls for his impeachment would bother him. On the contrary, evidence suggests Justice and Mrs. Thomas see themselves as untouchable and unimpeachable.

    Alito gave two recent speeches that devolved into angry, Tucker Carlsonesque screeds, all but stating outright Alito sees himself as above reproach. From gutting democratic elections to publicly hobnobbing with Mitch McConnell to abusing the shadow docket, the “conservative” members of this illegitimate Apartheid Court have shown they do not care about appearances or ethical behavior. They believe the ends justify the means, that only the advance of raw Republican power matters. That’s what Federalist Society money put them on the court for.

    You think Clarence and Ginni Thomas are upset about accusations of corruption and calls for impeachment? Pfft. To be blunt: they don’t give a ****. They love it.

    1
  82. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Me, a slighly left of your standard center-left person, is arguably much more conservative than your standard issue Republican.

    I like and enjoy and want to preserve political structures that work. I want to conserve them. Push some of the definitions to include more folks by fits and starts, obviously yes, but the backbone framework is good and stable.

    If my side loses a political battle or an election, I take my lumps. Regroup. Refocus. Refine the message for the next go-around.

    It would not occur to me to upend the system and storm the capitol. That would grossly uncivil. Rude. Presumptuous. L’etat is most definitely not moi. In many instances, I am an outlier.

    Fundamentally, when it comes to political stuff, I am not a radical. I want certain things to happen, but I don’t want to overturn the whole system and the associated processes to win.

    That path leads to insanity and raw authoritarianism. Morally, ethically, fundamentally wrong in a democracy.

    I am a little c conservative.

    2
  83. wr says:

    @gVOR08: “Quite agree that Ginni has a right to do what she’s doing. ”

    Conspiring to overthrow the government of the United States? Beg to differ…

    3
  84. Dmichael says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Sorry, I am late with my response. Confirmation is in todays NY Times

    1