A group of House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Supreme Court on Monday requesting that Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from any future cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol or efforts to overturn the 2020 election, along with a “written explanation for his failure to recuse himself” in previous cases on those subjects.
The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), follows The Washington Post’s reporting on repeated efforts by conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the Supreme Court justice’s wife, to pressure White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue various avenues to overturn the 2020 election.
In the letter, the lawmakers argue that “given the recent disclosures about Ms. Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election and her specific communications with White House officials about doing so, Justice Thomas’s participation in cases involving the 2020 election and the January 6th attack is exceedingly difficult to reconcile with federal ethics requirements,” according to a copy of the letter provided to The Post.
The letter outlines Ginni Thomas’s extensive role as an activist, her position as a board member for a conservative political group involved in the “Stop the Steal” movement and her direct communication with the White House about strategies to overturn the results of the 2020 election as examples of ethical entanglements for her husband. Thomas was the only justice to dissent in a January decision to reject former president Donald Trump’s request to block documents from being released to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Ginni Thomas has previously denied any conflicts of interest with her husband’s work. “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 this month.
The lawmakers also called on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. by April 28 to commit to creating “a binding Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court — the only court in the country not currently subject to a judicial code of ethics — that includes (1) enforceable provisions to ensure that the Justices comply with this Code and (2) a requirement that all Justices issue written recusal decision,” according to the letter.
The letter describes other “major ethics” breaches at the Supreme Court, including Clarence Thomas’s failure to disclose his wife’s income from the Heritage Foundation between 2003 and 2007.
“Chief Justice Roberts has often spoken about the importance of the Supreme Court’s ‘credibility and legitimacy as an institution.' That trust, already at all-time lows with the American public, must be earned,” the lawmakers conclude.
Signatories include Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Sens. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), along with 13 House Democrats.
The House Jan. 6 committee is planning to request an interview with Ginni Thomas in the wake of reports about her communication with Meadows, The Post reported Monday.