Calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign—or face impeachment proceedings—mounted late Thursday after text messages revealed that his wife urged former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to aggressively pursue efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
The Washington Post and CBS News obtained dozens of texts that Ginni Thomas, a long-time far-right activist who attended the January 6 rally that preceded the Capitol assault, sent to Meadows in the wake of Trump’s election loss, which she characterized as fraudulent while her husband was hearing election-related cases.
“Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” Thomas wrote in a November 19 message to Meadows, echoing a slogan that served as a rallying cry for pro-Trump groups.
All but one of the texts between Thomas and Meadows, most of which were written by Thomas, were sent between November 4 and November 24, 2020. One text was sent on January 10, 2021 in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.
Justice Thomas, who was hospitalized with an infection, has thus far declined to recuse himself from Supreme Court cases in which his wife’s right-wing activism could pose a conflict of interest.
Thomas was the only justice to publicly argue that the high court should have granted former President Donald Trump’s motion to block the National Archives from handing White House documents over to a congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack. The Supreme Court ultimately rejected Trump’s request.
Sarah Lipton-Lubet, executive director of the Take Back the Court Action Fund, said in a statement Thursday night that “if one thing is clear” from the newly revealed text messages, “it’s that there’s much more to the story of Ginni Thomas’ participation in the January 6 attack that the House Select Committee and the American public deserve to know.”
“Given that Justice Thomas has already made known he won’t recuse himself from cases related to his wife’s right-wing activism, and the damning evidence of his wife’s involvement in this attack on our democracy, Thomas is clearly unfit to serve on the nation’s highest court,” said Lipton-Lubet. “Clarence Thomas must immediately resign from his seat on the Supreme Court.”
“If he refuses, Congress must move to impeach him,” she added. “The integrity of the court, our judicial system, and our democracy as a whole depends on it.”
At least one member of Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), echoed the call for Thomas’ impeachment. The House can impeach a Supreme Court justice with a simple-majority vote, but a two-thirds majority is required in the Senate for conviction and removal.
At the very least, the new revelations demonstrate why Thomas “must recuse from any Supreme Court cases or petitions related to the January 6 Committee or efforts to overturn the election,” argued Gabe Roth, executive director of the nonpartisan advocacy group Fix the Court.
“Ginni’s direct participation in this odious anti-democracy work, coupled with the new reporting that seems to indicate she may have spoken to Justice Thomas about it, leads to the conclusion that the justice’s continued participation in cases related to these efforts would only further tarnish the court’s already fading public reputation,” Roth said.
The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer reported in January that Ginni Thomas has in recent years aligned herself “with many activists who have brought issues in front of” the Supreme Court.
“She has been one of the directors of CNP Action, a dark-money wing of the conservative pressure group the Council for National Policy,” Mayer noted. “CNP Action, behind closed doors, connects wealthy donors with some of the most radical right-wing figures in America. Ginni Thomas has also been on the advisory board of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump student group, whose founder, Charlie Kirk, boasted of sending busloads of protesters to Washington on January 6th.”
Mayer also observed that Ginni Thomas received payments from the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a right-wing anti-Muslim think tank. Despite disclosure requirements, Justice Thomas failed to report his wife’s income from CSP in 2017 and 2018.
In an op-ed published before the text messages between Ginni Thomas and Meadows surfaced, MSNBC‘s Mehdi Hasan cited Mayer’s reporting to argue that “Democrats should be loudly drawing attention to the fact that the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice supported Trump’s coup attempt.”
“There is a clear value in holding impeachment hearings to draw attention to Thomas and his wife and their inappropriate behavior, especially as an increasingly partisan, conservative-majority court guts voting and reproductive rights,” Hasan wrote. “What would Republicans be doing if they had held a House majority and, say, Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s spouse had supported attempts to block a duly elected GOP president from taking office and she refused to recuse herself from related cases?”
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Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep