Senator Ron Wyden—"Justice Clarence Thomas Must Recuse Himself” March 29, 2022
IOKIYAR –Translation: “It’s OK IF You’re A Republican.” Actually, “Anything’s OK IF You’re a Republican,” and any member of that party can shamelessly do what he/she wants to destroy our democracy. As we learn more and more about the horrible attempt by Demagogue Donald and his MAGA thugs to tear down our democratic form of government, we realize that the 1/06/2021 assault on our Capitol was months in the making. Besides Donald, many of his top lieutenants never had and never will have any “sense of decency.” We now know that Donald’s Chief-of-Staff, former right-wing Tea Party extremist Congressman Mark Meadows, was right up there trying to keep Democrat Joe Biden, the clearly legitimate winner of the 11/2020 presidential election, from ever sitting in the Oval Office (See nytimes.com, Hakim, Becker, & Feuer, 6/26/22). And who was one of Meadows’s major co-conspirators? Why none other than Virginia (Ginny) Thomas. That’s right, Virginia Lamp Thomas, the wife of super reactionary Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was right at Meadows’s side. The late hard-right Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia referred to Thomas as a “nut” for his far- out judicial leanings. Justice Thomas’s behavior involving the 1/06/2021 riot was far worse than any of his judicial opinions that Scalia rightly criticized.
As most of us not living in the Fox News bubble know by now, in the weeks following Trump’s 2020 election loss to Biden, Ginni Thomas sent at least 29 messages to Trump Chief-of-Staff (COS) Mark Meadows. These were false claims and conspiracy theories making the rounds on pro-Trump sites where anger over the election results echoed Ginni’s own feelings. These messages sounded like they came right out of the Qanon playbook. They urged Meadows and other Tump loyalists to fight President-elect Biden’s win (See, npr.com, Grisales, C., 3/25/22, nytimes.com, Hakim et al, 3/26/22). Ginni Thomas described Biden’s win as “an obvious fraud” and “the greatest heist in our history (thehill.com, Kruzel, J., 3/26/22).” In these memos, Ginni Thomas appeared to be strategizing over how to bypass the will of the American voters in order to install loser Trump for a second White House term. Ginni Thomas also revealed in an interview that she had participated in the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the fatal 1/06/2021 riot at the Capitol (thehill.com, Kruzel, 3/26/22). In fact, two days after the 2020 election, Ginny Thomas texted her old friend COS Meadows with these wacko and chilling words, “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.” Ginny added, “I hope this is true (nytimes.com, Hakim et al, 3/26/22).” The following day, G. Thomas texted Meadows, “Do not concede. It takes time for the ‘army who is gathering for his back (nytimes.com, Hakim et al, 3/26/22).’” COS Meadows turned these messages over in a trove of documents to the 1/06 House Committee investigating the Capitol attack. G. Thomas, who like COS Meadows has anti-government Tea Party roots, has openly opposed the 1/06 House Committee and called for GOPers who serve on it to be expelled from the House Republican conference (See nytimes.com, Hakim et al, 3/26/22).
As the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Ginni is not an unconnected person in the D.C. power structure. Her husband, appointed by H.W. Bush in 1991, has served for three decades on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) bench. In the lengthy time he has served on SCOTUS, Justice Thomas has never stepped aside from a case due to a real or perceived conflict of interest resulting from his wife’s political activities (thehill.com, Kruzel, 3/26/22). Supreme Ct. Justices, unlike judges on the District Courts or Circuit Ct. of Appeals, are not bound by a code of conduct and are permitted to decide for themselves whether recusal is appropriate. However, many SCOTUS Justices correctly understand that they should rightfully avoid the appearance of impropriety or conflicts of interests to protect both their reputations and that of the High Court. SCOTUS Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from deciding any cases she had been involved with when she was the former Solicitor General. The Solicitor General is the attorney who argues the U.S. Government’s cases before SCOTUS. In her recent confirmation hearing, Biden SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson stated that because of her close ties to Harvard University, she would recuse herself from deciding a case involving Harvard. That key case involved whether Harvard had discriminated against Asian-American students in its admissions policies.
Ginni Thomas and her SCOTUS husband have been a fiercely close couple for decades. In Justice Thomas’s memoir, he wrote that he and spouse Ginni were “one being—an amalgam.” He called Ginni his “best friend.” Ginni uses similar language to describe her husband in a text to COS Meadows (nytimes.com, Hakim et al, 3/26/22). When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment at the time of his nomination, Ginni called Hill to demand an apology from her. Ginni is not the least bit shy in jumping in to defend her husband or his work (npr.org., Grisales, 3/25/22). Even before and after the 2020 election, Trump courted Justice Thomas, and his wife Ginni won increasing access to Donald’s White House. Ginni pressed Donald to hire people who could not pass security background checks for federal employment, and her influence with Trump grew (Hakim et al, 3/26/22). When Ginni Thomas started her career, she had worked with establishment right-wing organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. However, she moved rightward to the Tea Party. In 2013, Ginni founded a group called Groundswell that had former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon backing it. Ginni was appointed in 2019 to the nine-member board of CNP Action, an offshoot of a secretive right-wing group called the Council for National Policy. CNP Action included the Federalist Society and the National Rifle Associaton. CNP Action played a very strong role in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In November, 2020 it circulated a memo. This memo pressured GOP lawmakers in swing states to challenge the election results and appoint alternate slates of electors (Hakim, et al, 3/26/22, nytimes.com). Ginni Thomas sent COS Meadows a ridiculous statement that mail-in-ballots had been watermarked to catch voter fraud. On 11/19/2022, Ginni wrote Meadows that disgraced and disbarred attorney Sidney Powell and her team were “getting inundated with evidence of (election) fraud and that Meadows should release the ‘Kraken (a giant octopus-like sea creature) to save America (nytimes.com, Hakim et al).’” John Eastman, a close friend of Clarence and Ginni Thomas, urged the Supreme Court to intervene in this case. After the 1/06/2021 Capitol riot, CNP Action outlined a strategy that claimed that most of the protests were “peaceful.” The right-wing media used this “party line” as a key talking point (See Hakim, nytimes.com, 3/26/22). On 1/10/2022, Ginni texted Meadows that she was “disgusted that then VP Pence had not gone along to keep Trump in power (Hakim, et al).”
During this time, when cases related to the 2020 election were going to SCOTUS, what did Ginni’s husband Justice Clarence do? Nothing. It was business as usual for him. As his record shows, he did not excuse himself from one election case although his wife was up to her head, really the ceiling, when these matters came up. During these election controversies, Justice Thomas was Donald’s staunchest ally on the SCOTUS bench and never wavered in his defense. In January,2022, Clarence Thomas was the only Justice who wrote a dissent when SCOTUS allowed the release of records from the Trump White House related to the 1/06/2021 Capitol attack (Hakim et al, nytimes.com, 3/26/22).
In view of Ginni Thomas’s controversial memos and her relationship to Justice Thomas, calls have intensified for Justice Thomas to step aside from these Jan. 6, 2021 cases. On 3/25/2022, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) correctly stated that Justice Thomas “needs to recuse himself from any case related to the Jan. 6 investigation, and should Donald Trump run again, any case related to the 2024 election (nytimes.com, Hakim et al, 3/26/22).” Let’s meet Sen. Wyden.
Fifth-term Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (72) is currently Oregon’s senior U.S. Senator. At the time of his birth, Wichita, Kansas native Wyden’s father, Peter, was a journalist for the Wichita Eagle. Both of his parents were Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany. Wyden’s father was trained as a U.S. spy in WWII. During the war, he returned to Europe to help run an Allied propaganda campaign aimed at Nazi-occupied territory. Ron Wyden grew up in CA and received his undergraduate degree from Stanford and a 1974 law degree from the University of Oregon Law School. After his law school graduation, Wyden founded the OR chapter of the Gray Panthers, an advocacy group for the elderly. Wyden, made his first entry into politics by sponsoring a successful referendum that reduced the price of dentures (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac).
As a 19-year- old college student, Wyden worked as a campaign driver for OR’s Sen. Wayne Morse who became his mentor. In 1968, Morse, an early opponent of the Vietnam War, won a Democratic primary against former Cong. Robert Duncan. However, Morse lost the general election to GOPer Bob Packwood. At age 31, in 1980, Wyden launched a successful primary challenge against then Cong. Duncan and won the Portland, OR-based 3rd-based Congressional District. In the House, Wyden concentrated on health care, energy, and telecommunications (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Wyden was long interested in running for the Senate. In 1995, the Senate Ethics Committee decided to expel Packwood for sexually harassing aides and lobbyists. Wyden ran in the special election to replace Packwood and with his Portland base, won by a 6-point margin. In the general election, Wyden eked out a 1% win against GOP OR Senate President and frozen-vegetable tycoon Gordon Smith. Ten months later, Smith won OR’s other Senate seat when GOPer Mark Hatfield retired (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In the Senate, Wyden has always been known as a fellow who works to bridge the partisan divide. Wyden and his former rival Smith became friends and held dozens of joint town hall meetings together across OR. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who worked closely with Wyden stated that, “He’s (Wyden) genuine about it (bipartisanship), and it’s important to him (Cohen & Cook 2022).” Still, Wyden has a very strong Democratic record. From 2019-2020, Sen. Wyden had a composite 97%-3% liberal/conservative record (2022 Almanac Ratings). He voted against Trump rubber stamper Bill Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as Atty. General (2022 Almanac Ratings). Sen. Wyden forced a six-hour debate on the Senate floor in opposition to Rep. Mike Pompeo becoming Trump’s Sec. of State. Wyden was furious that Pompeo had written an article that called for establishing programs collecting Americans’ metadata. Although Cong. had barred such action in 2015, Pompeo argued that such metadata should be combined with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a “comprehensive searchable database.” On the Senate floor, Wyden aptly declared,” I have never heard an idea so extreme, so overarching, and so intrusive of Americans’ privacy. We are headed into dangerous times (Cohen & Cook 2022).” In the Senate, Wyden sits on the Budget, Energy & Natural Resources, Finance, and Select Intelligence Committees (CQ 117th Cong. At Your Fingertips).
When Sen. Wyden calls for Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from handling any cases relating to the 1/06/2021 attempted D.C. coup and any case related to the 2014 election should Demagogue Donald run in 2024 for the White House, the American people must listen. Clarence and Ginni Thomas must not be allowed to interfere with our democracy.