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Is Ginni Thomas’s Story Believable?

Let’s apply some common-sense tests.
March 28, 2022
Is Ginni Thomas’s Story Believable?
Virginia Thomas (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty)

Virginia Thomas wants people to believe that her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had no idea about her activities challenging the results of the 2020 election.

“Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she told a friendly outlet earlier this month. Therefore, no one need worry about his ability to be an impartial judge on the highest court in the land. Everything is hunky-dory.

If you believe that, Ginni has a barge off GITMO to sell you for President Biden’s forthcoming military tribunal. Which, according to the texts she sent to Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is also something she believed possible:

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 for sedition

Her story, as well as her election theories, don’t survive even the most basic common-sense tests.

Justice Thomas cannot plausibly plead ignorance of his wife’s Jan. 6th-related activities. Her texts were the subject of a blockbuster Washington Post-CBS story, carried by numerous other outlets such as CNN and the New York Times. Multiple outlets asked the Thomases for comment multiple times. A CNN reporter staked out the couple in their parking garage. Maybe the Thomases talked about it, maybe they didn’t—it’s impossible for outsiders to know what happens inside a marriage—but the notion that Clarence Thomas is unaware of what Ginni was up to? Not plausible.

Second, beyond the text messages revealed last week, many of Ginni’s political activities relating to Jan. 6th were already a matter of public record. Her promotion of election conspiracies was well known; she posted them on her Facebook page. On the morning of Jan. 6th, just hours before the attack on the Capitol, she lavished praise on the Trump rallygoers who wanted to overturn the election. In the weeks after the riot, Ginni apologized to a listserv of her husband’s former clerks because her election-related activities and her “lifetime passions” caused a rift in the close-knit group of Thomas alumni.* Although this was a minor controversy, her husband could reasonably be expected to know about it, since it directly involved his wife and former clerks—and the Washington Post reported on it.

To believe that Justice Thomas is unaware of Mrs. Thomas’s Jan. 6th-related activities, one would also have to believe that Ginni’s co-signed public letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanding that he remove Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the GOP conference for serving as members of the Jan. 6th Committee never crossed Justice Thomas’s radar.

The letter said:

As part of Pelosi’s team, Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger have deliberately sought to undermine the privacy and due process of their fellow Republicans, and those of private citizens, with improperly issued subpoenas and other investigatory tactics designed not to pursue any valid legislative end, but merely to exploit for the sake of political harassment and demagoguery.

Seems like Justice Thomas may have heard about that one. Turns out Ginni had good reason to be worried about “privacy”; dozens of her texts to one White House official have turned up in the investigation so far.

But wait! There’s more that Justice Thomas supposedly never discussed with his wife.

Jane Mayer’s lengthy January 2022 New Yorker piece “Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?” documented Mrs. Thomas’s long advocacy history, ties to various Stop the Steal organizers, and meetings with the Trump White House. The next month, Danny Hakim and Jo Becker came out with another profile, this time in the New York Times Magazine: “The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas.” It discussed Ginni’s role as a board member of the Council for National Policy, which asked GOP lawmakers to challenge the election results and appoint alternate slates of electors.

Are we to believe that Justice Thomas somehow just happened to miss all this? That after he declined to comment for either of these major articles, no one sent him copies when they came out?  That the issues raised in these articles never came up at the dinner table? Not that it matters much: Ginni’s grassroots and legal advocacy is no longer a matter of supposed spousal compartmentalization. They’re officially part of the Jan. 6th investigation. Ginni’s texts became public because they were part of a tranche of records Meadows turned over to the Jan. 6th committee.

Mayer, in her New Yorker article, walks through some of the questions involved in when Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves. Certainly, a plain reading of the law would require Justice Thomas to recuse himself from any cases related to Jan. 6th, the 2020 election, and any of Trump’s future campaigns. Here’s the opening of 28 U.S.C. § 455: Any justice “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

There have already been cases where Justice Thomas’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The Supreme Court has considered, or considered taking up, cases related to various efforts to overturn the election and the Jan. 6th investigation—and Justice Thomas has been the lone dissent on two of those decisions and only agreed with one other judge on the third:

  • In December 2020, the Supreme Court declined to take up a longshot case by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to throw out the election results in swing states Joe Biden won. There were no formal dissents from this order, but Justice Samuel Alito wrote a statement in which Thomas joined that they would have allowed the case to move forward, “but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”
  • In February 2021, the court declined to take a case in which Trump challenged Pennsylvania’s extended ballot-receipt deadlines. Justice Thomas scathingly wrote in the only dissent: “These cases provide us with an ideal opportunity to address just what authority nonlegislative officials have to set election rules, and to do so well before the next election cycle. The refusal to do so is inexplicable.”
  • Then, in January 2022, Thomas dissented from the court’s decision to greenlight the National Archives to turn over White House documents to the Jan. 6th Committee. Only Justice Thomas indicated in the filing that he would have granted Trump’s request to withhold the records. He did not explain why.

One last common-sense test: Ginni told Meadows via text that the “Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.” If she really thought that were true, wouldn’t she have a moral obligation to speak with her husband, one of nine people on the planet who could potentially resolve the matter?

Would she be posting all over Facebook, writing open letters to GOP leadership, and working all her Washington insider connections, including the White House chief of staff, but not strategizing with the Supreme Court justice living under the same roof as her?

That’s even harder to believe than the conspiracy theories dancing in her head.

* Notably, the group of Thomas clerk alumni includes John Eastman, author of the memo outlining how then-Vice President Mike Pence could deny or block Joe Biden’s certification as president. Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob has testified that Eastman believed, to some degree, that Justice Thomas would support his strategy.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.