Ginni Thomas has a history of republican cheer-leading activities. In July 2013, she was identified as a key member of Groundswell, a right-wing lobby group that attempts to enact political change behind the scenes via high-level contacts. While that put a spotlight on her personal connection with the US Supreme Court – a very high-level contact indeed – any criticism was drowned out by the political events of that year which culminated in a 17-day government shutdown.
In early 2016, she initially endorsed Ted Cruz in the GOP primaries but quickly changed her allegiance to the primary winner. From that day, Ginni Thomas not only supported Trump but actively campaigned for him while immersing herself ever more deeply into the MAGA culture.
But it wasn’t until she abetted the Big Lie narrative on January 6 that she earned more public attention, especially on social media platforms like Twitter. That’s when Ginni Thomas watchers turned a laser focus on her Facebook page.
But before we go any further, some may be wondering: who is she and why such intense interest in her activities? Allow me to introduce her: Virginia “Ginni” Thomas is the pro-Trump, MAGA-manic wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. That’s who she is and that’s why her conduct is drawing public attention.
Let’s take a look at her Trump era career of influence peddling. On January 8, 2021, Slate reported:
Thomas, a conservative lobbyist and zealous supporter of Donald Trump, has fervently defended the president over the last four years. On her Facebook page, she frequently promotes baseless conspiracy theories about a “coup” against Trump led by Jewish philanthropist George Soros, a frequent target of anti-Semitic hate. Thomas draws many of these theories from fringe corners of the internet, including an anti-vax Facebook group that claimed Bill Gates would use the COVID vaccine to kill people. In recent months, she also amplified unsubstantiated corruption claims against Joe Biden while insisting, falsely, that the Obama administration illegally spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign, then tried to rig the election against him.
In turn, Trump has rewarded Thomas with an extraordinary amount of access to the Oval Office.
In May 2020,Trump appointed Ginni Thomas a member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.
Her Facebook page was a sewer of dangerously false derision. A vociferous opponent of the the Black Lives Matter movement, Ginni Thomas also repeatedly claimed George Soros was funding a sweeping conspiracy against Trump and, while actively campaigning on Trump’s behalf, she posted: “No one, and I mean no one, has done more to harm America than the Democrats.”
Then, on November 3, 2020, she fell silent… until January 6 when her Facebook page lit up with cheerleading for the Trump “Stop the Steal” rally. These two messages were posted roughly 15 minutes apart in the very early hours of the morning:
In a gesture of solidarity with Trump and his manic followers, she then added this quote from a Ronald Reagan speech.
Who knows what she expected would come out of that day’s events. As the march on the Capitol turned to violent insurrection, there was silence from Ginni Thomas.
Two days later, following a flood of online reproof when her Facebook entries went viral on Twitter, she added these disclaimers to her first two posts: “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol]” and “[Note: written before the violence in the US Capitol]” but they failed stem the criticism.
Within hours, her entire Facebook page disappeared. As Law & Crime noted in their report:
It is unclear whether those specific messages were deleted, whether her overall profile was deleted, whether she simply changed the privacy settings for her social media account or whether Facebook itself took down Thomas’s page.
She had previously identified herself as a verified Facebook “Public Figure.”
While there’s no evidence she knew about or in any way contributed to the insurrection, her actions and comments nevertheless reflect on her husband. In fact that has been true for several years now but it was brought into particularly sharp focus on January 6, a focus that is not likely to fade any time soon.
The US Constitution has little to say about the conduct of judges but it does say this in Article III, Section 1:
The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour
“Good behaviour” is a catch-all term that was likely better understood in the early years of the Republic than it is today. But its application in this instance is very clear. Justice Thomas cannot be said to be modelling “good behaviour” by judicial standards if he is intimately acquainted with, and supportive of, anti-democratic rallies and perfidious speech.
But it is not only his association with his wife and her actions, it’s his own actions that are now coming under scrutiny, like this episode from 2 years ago.
According to the New York Times, Trump agreed to meet with Ginni Thomas’s lobby group Groundswell after she and her husband dined with the Trumps in early 2019. Groundswell’s members urged Trump to ban transgender service in the military and a ban did take effect in 2019, around the time of Groundswell’s meeting.
But the clincher is this: the ban only took effect after the Supreme Court lifted lower court orders blocking it. It was a 5–4 vote along partisan lines because Clarence Thomas did not recuse himself from the case as he should have done.
The Code of Conduct for US Judges requires justices to disqualify themselves from any proceeding in which their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” (Canon 3(C)1) It also compels justices to recuse if their spouse has “an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome” of the case. (Cannon 3(C)1(d)iii)
But Justice Thomas has never recused himself from any case linked to his wife’s lobbying activities.
Does that give Democrats sufficient grounds to impeach Justice Thomas? Paragraph 3 of the Commentary section in Canon 1 of The Code states:
Not every violation of the Code should lead to disciplinary action. Whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and the degree of discipline, should be determined through a reasonable application of the text and should depend on such factors as the seriousness of the improper activity, the intent of the judge, whether there is a pattern of improper activity, and the effect of the improper activity on others or on the judicial system.
Since there has been a repeated failure to recuse and therefore repeated violations of The Code, specifically
- Canon 1 A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
- Canon 2 A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities
- Canon 3 A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially and Diligently and
- Canon 5 A Judge Should Refrain From Political Activity,
there surely is a case to be made for impeachment and it’s one a Democratic Congress and Executive are not likely to overlook.
President Biden has already announced a Supreme Court Commission to look at reforms. According to CNN, “officials involved with the Biden commission say its membership and mission are being finalized and could be unveiled as early as next week.” It’s expected that its mission will include new ethics rules for the high court. If so, Clarence Thomas may be the first to experience their impact.
When Ginni Thomas’s anti-democracy stance drew the spotlight to herself, it illuminated her husband too. No-one is in the mood to forget it. No-one is in the mood to move on. So it may spell the downfall of them both, and not before time.