Justice’s wife faces new scrutiny for GOP ties
Ginni Thomas reentered headlines in recent weeks when she revealed her attendance at the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally outside of the White House, while contending that she did not take part in the attack on Congress.
The revelation was shocking given that her husband is expected to remain politically neutral on hot-button issues, and during his recent tenure has been in the position to consider efforts by the Trump campaign to overturn the 2020 election.
It also raised the question as to whether Mr Thomas believes the conspiracies and falsehoods spread by the Trump campaign after Donald Trump’s November 2020 defeat to Joe Biden; such conspiracies have been embraced by many members of the GOP but have yet to gain significant support in GOP congressional leadership; no sitting Supreme Court justice has offered an opinion about the 2020 election or the events of January 6 publicly thus far.
Mr Thomas, however, did have the distinction of being the only justice on the court’s bench to offer the opinion that Donald Trump’s communications should be shielded from the committee investigating the historic siege on the seat of American government.
His wife is known to be a vocal supporter of Mr Trump and has joined efforts through her activist circles to purge the GOP of figures like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, who denounced the president and supported his impeachment.
Now, Ms Thomas’ personal donations to the Trump campaign – more than $2,000 during the 2020 cycle – as well as her more than $10,000 in donations to various congressional Republican campaigns is the subject of a new report from Forbes that questions whether they present “concerns about potential conflicts of interest for her husband”. The numbers were gathered from FEC filings that have been publicly available for some time.
Efforts to judge or oversee the actions of a Supreme Court justice’s spouse are largely uncharted territory and many conservatives have argued that Mr Thomas should be viewed separately from his wife’s far-right activism.
Some legal experts have raised the question as to whether Mr Thomas should be forced to recuse himself from cases that relate to issues his wife advocates for or against.
“Virginia Thomas should be able to back whatever causes motivate her. The problem is that Justice Thomas continues to participate in cases related to her political activities,” Steven Lubet, professor of legal ethics at Northwestern University Law School, told The Hill in a statement. “He is the one whose conduct should be questioned.”
Mr Thomas is currently hospitalised with an infection; little is known of his condition but a spokesperson for the Supreme Court has declared that Mr Thomas tested negative for Covid-19.