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Editorial: A code of ethics could help the Supreme Court maintain integrity

The Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

Yet, not surprisingly, Justice Thomas ignored an issue brewing closer to home: his own refusal to recuse himself in cases linked to his politically active wife’s activism.

Mounting evidence has found Justice Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, an attorney and activist in Washington conservative circles, played a disturbingly significant role in events pertaining to cases from which he has declined to recuse himself, according to reports.

For example, Ginni Thomas exchanged at least 29 text messages with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as the two of them strategized about overturning the 2020 presidential election result, according to The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and CBS News’ Robert Costa.

Although questions have risen before about her freelance political activities, this report was the first to offer direct evidence that Ginni Thomas advised the White House in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and President Donald Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” effort.

Recusals matter. Significantly, the news of Ginni Thomas’ text messages broke a day after Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testified that she would recuse herself from a major case involving Harvard University, where she serves on the governing board. Justices should not participate in cases in which they or close family members have a personal interest.

Yet Ginni Thomas’ text messages to Trump’s chief of staff during the weeks between the 2020 election and the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol showed that she had actively supported the legal effort to overturn the vote.

 

“Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History,” one message said.

Yet, Justice Thomas participated in a ruling in January on an emergency application from Trump asking the court to block the release of White House records concerning the attack on the Capitol. The court rejected the request, in a sharp rebuke to the former president.

But only Justice Thomas noted a dissent, giving no reasons.

That appearance of conflict follows a long history of both liberal and conservative justices who have refused to recuse, despite widespread calls for them to do so.

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