Kevin McCarthy Doesn't Think Clarence Thomas Should Recuse Himself - Rolling Stone
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Republicans Shrug at Glaring Conflict of Interest in Clarence Thomas Ruling on Election-Related Cases

Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and Mitch McConnell don’t feel like Thomas should have to recuse himself despite his wife’s QAnon-fueled election activism

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (R) and Virginia Thomas arrive for the State Dinner at The White House honoring Australian PM Morrison on September 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister Morrison is on a state visit in Washington hosted by President Trump.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (R) and Virginia Thomas arrive for the State Dinner at The White House honoring Australian PM Morrison on September 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister Morrison is on a state visit in Washington hosted by President Trump.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and wife Ginni Thomas arrive for the State Dinner at The White House honoring Australian PM Morrison on Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Ginni Thomas waged a QAnon conspiracy-fueled push to get White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to help overturn the results of the 2020 election at the same time her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was ruling on cases pertaining to it. Democrats, legal scholars, and other observers are calling for Thomas to recuse himself from future election-related cases. Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, however, aren’t too concerned. Neither is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Speaking at an event in Florida on Friday alongside Jordan, McCarthy dismissed calls for the conservative justice to step aside from such cases, despite his wife’s involvement in the Trump administration’s push to overturn the election. “No … I think Justice Thomas could make his decisions like he’s made them every other time,” McCarthy said. “It’s his decision based upon law. If you spent any time studying this Supreme Court justice, he’s one who studies correctly, I mean, from all the way through. If he sees it’s not upholding the Constitution, he’ll rule against it. If it’s constitutional, that’s what his job should be — it’s him.”

Jordan then chimed in: “Totally.”

McConnell chimed in later on Friday. “Justice Thomas is a great American and an outstanding Justice,” he said, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. “I have total confidence in his brilliance and impartiality in every aspect of the work of the Court.”

Some congressional Democrats, on the other hand, see no reason for Thomas to stay on the bench for matters relating to Jan. 6. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was among those calling for his recusal. “Judges are obligated to recuse themselves when their participation in a case would create even the appearance of a conflict of interest. A person with an ounce of commonsense could see that bar is met here,” Wyden said, according to Axios. “In light of new reporting from numerous outlets, Justice Thomas’ conduct on the Supreme Court looks increasingly corrupt.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) went further, calling for the impeachment of the court’s longest-serving judge. This has only occurred once before, in 1804, and did not result in a conviction in the Senate. “Clarence Thomas needs to be impeached,” she tweeted on Friday.

Legal scholars have also called for Thomas to step down from election-related cases. “The judicial standard for recusal centers on an *appearance* of a conflict of interest,” tweeted Daniel Goldman, the legal counsel for the effort to impeach former President Trump. “That Thomas ruled on a matter directly involving his wife—whether or not her texts were at issue or if he actually knew about them —clearly *appears* to be a conflict. Recusal was necessary.”

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at NYU, told Jane Mayer of The New Yorker that Thomas “has now crossed a line,” concluding that “Clarence Thomas cannot sit on any matter involving the election, the invasion of the Capitol, or the work of the January 6 Committee.”

Mayer reported in January on Ginni Thomas’ history of right-wing activism and the influence it could have on her husband, noting that Thomas sat on the advisory board for Turning Point USA, a conservative group that brought busloads of rally attendees to Washington. When the Supreme Court ruled that Trump couldn’t hide documents from the Jan. 6 committee, the lone dissenting vote was none other than Clarence Thomas.

Thomas admitted earlier this month that she actually attended the “Stop the Steal rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol, but claimed that her right-wing activism hasn’t affected her husband’s work, and that she hasn’t involved her husband in her own work. This is not true, as Politico reported in February that Thomas mentioned her husband in an effort to get Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to participate in an event for a conservative group. Thomas suggested that her husband and DeSantis were in regular contact.

Thomas’ texts to Meadows may have influenced his actions ahead of Jan. 6. Rolling Stone reported this week that the former chief of staff was involved in efforts to get Trump supporters to march to the Capitol and to “make it look like they went down there on their own.”

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