Wife of Supreme Court justice who praised Capitol rioters wants Cheney and Kinzinger out of GOP for investigating it

Virginia ‘Ginny’ Thomas is a veteran conservative activist whose political activities have often concerned matters before the Supreme Court

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 18 January 2022 20:01
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Capitol rioter says he might repeat Jan 6 actions

The wife of one of the Supreme Court justices who could be charged with deciding whether the House January 6th select committee can view Trump administration White House records has signed on to an open letter calling for the committee’s two Republican members to be ousted from the House GOP conference.

Virginia “Ginny” Thomas, a longtime conservative activist and the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, was one of more than 60 signatories to the open letter, which was organised by the pro-Trump Conservative Action Project and asks House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to “act immediately to remove” Reps Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the Republican conference “due to their egregious actions as part of the House of Representative’s January 6th Select Committee”.

Virginia ‘Ginny’ Thomas

It further accuses the two GOP House members of having “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” and complains that their participation in the House’s investigation into the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814 “have given supposedly bipartisan justification to an overtly partisan political persecution that brings disrespect to our country’s rule of law, legal harassment to private citizens who have done nothing wrong, and which demeans the standing of the House”.

The list of signatories includes a veritable who’s who of names from the Trump wing of the GOP, including Reagan-era attorney general Ed Meese, ex-Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, former senator Jim DeMint, and American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, as well as two attorneys who helped perpetuate former president Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in the weeks prior to the 6 January insurrection, Cleta Mitchell and Jenna Ellis.

But the inclusion of Ms Thomas as a signer of a letter denouncing the investigation into the attack on the Capitol is controversial in and of itself because her husband is set to vote on whether the court will hear arguments in Mr Trump’s bid to block the National Archives and Records Administration from releasing White House records to the committee.

Although her husband is duty-bound to keep any political opinions to himself and out of his jurisprudence, Ms Thomas has long been a high-level player in GOP activist circles, and was known to be a key behind-the-scenes adviser to Mr Trump during his presidency.

She has also courted controversy by opining on matters that were on track to be argued before the Supreme Court in the past, including voicing her opposition to the Affordable Care Act while challenges to the health care law were making their way through the courts.

Ms Thomas’ participation in the push to oust Ms Cheney and Ms Kinzinger from the House GOP conference comes on the heels of another dust-up she created on social media the day the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

Early that morning, she took to Facebook urge followers of her personal page to “watch what Congress does” and wrote: “LOVE MAGA people!!!!”

She later added: “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING.”

While experts say the political views of a judge’s spouse should not be attributed to the judge, they can create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

But because the Supreme Court does not require justices to follow the recusal rules it applies to lower court judges, individual justices are responsible for deciding whether they must recuse themselves from a case.

Justice Thomas, the court’s longest-serving conservative justice, has never done so.

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