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Question about Ginni Thomas – The New York Times


During the early Reagan administration, a number of conservative Christian leaders formed a group called the National Policy Council. It quickly turned into what my colleague David Kirkpatrick described as “A little known club with a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country.” One of its main functions was to introduce political activists to wealthy donors who could fund their work.

After Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, the group’s political arm, known as CNP Action, took action. It encouraged its members to spread stories about “election problems and irregularities” in the five swing states that Joe Biden narrowly won. The aim is to convince Republican lawmakers to accept Trump’s false claims of election fraud – and then hand over their states’ electoral votes to him, overturning Trump’s victory. Biden.

One strong supporter of the effort is a CNP board member who has spent decades in conservative politics. Before the January 6 protests at the Capitol, she was said to have mediated between the hostile factions so that they could plan together. On the day of the protest, she posted a message on Facebook: “GOD BLESS EVERYONE UP OR PRAY!”

This board member’s name is Ginni Thomas, and she is married to Clarence Thomas, the longest serving judge on the Supreme Court. Today, The Times Magazine published an investigation into the work of Ginni Thomas and its connections to her husband, written by Danny Hakim and Jo Becker.

I realize that conflict of interest questions related to a spouse’s work can be difficult to resolve. On the one hand, people in general deserve the right to have their own career, separate from their spouse’. On the other hand, the privilege of being a top government official seems to require a higher standard of neutrality than most jobs.

But I don’t think you need to settle that debate to worry about Thomases’ recent actions. You just have to admit this: The spouse of a sitting Supreme Court judge played an active role in the effort to overturn the outcome of a presidential election, handing victory to the loser. and shed light on American democracy.

Justice of the Supreme Court, in turn, seems to endorse the effort. When Trump’s attempt to annul the results of the election came before the Supreme Court, six of the nine justices ruled against him. But Thomas was one of three judges who sided with Trump and, his dissent echoes the arguments of the CNP Action, as Danny and Jo explain. Thomas has effectively argued for giving partisan lawmakers more control over elections and their outcomes.

Story of Times Magazine More details, including:

  • After the January 6 protests turned into a violent attack on the Capitol, the CNP advised its members to protect the rioters. And Thomas himself signed a letter criticizing the House committee that was investigating the attack. The investigation, the letter says, “brings a lack of respect for the rule of law in our country” and “legal harassment of private citizens who have done nothing wrong.” (Ginni Thomas also made baseless accusations on election fraud in 2018, The Washington Post reported.)

  • The Thomases used her position as justice to advance her goals as an agent. During the Trump presidency, White House aides were surprised when Justice Thomas brought an uninvited guest – his wife – to a scheduled lunch with the president.

I also recommend a recent article by the New Yorker about the couple, by Jane Mayer. It notes that the Supreme Court has exempted itself from some conflict of interest rules that apply to all other judges. In reporting the story, Mayer revealed previously unknown payments to Ginni Thomas from conservative activists – including a group involved in a case before the Supreme Court.

Result, Mayer told NPR, is “the emergence of a conflict of interest that undermines public confidence that the courts are ruling in favor of justice rather than in the pocket of justice”.

I’m particularly surprised that the Thomases have been so willing to combine Supreme Court cases with both their finances and partisan politics at a time when judges seem so worried about the court’s image.

Several judges, including Chief Justice John Roberts, have recently given speeches emphasizing that judges are law-neutral arbitrators. rather than partisan characters. Justice Stephen Breyer has argued that the jurisdiction of the court depends on “the belief that the court is guided by legal principles, not politics”, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett has said, “The Court This does not cover a wide range of partisan hacks.”

Justice Thomas offered his own version of this argument, saying that a justice is not “like a politician” who makes decisions based on “personal preference”. However, his actions send a different message. They seem to acknowledge that the court is really a political body.

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