On Wednesday, the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing titled, “Building Confidence in the Supreme Court Through Ethics and Recusal Reforms.” The hearing was convened after Justice Clarence Thomas refused to recuse himself from cases on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — even though text messages have revealed his wife, Ginni Thomas, was directly involved in the plot to overturn the election results.
While the appearance of impropriety by Justice Thomas was in full display during the hearing, Rep. Louie Gohmert was outraged that it was being discussed at all, and accused democrats of “lynching” the conservative justice “because he is black.”
Referring to the 1991 confirmation hearings for Thomas, when he was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, Gohmert invoked his Black friends.
“Justice Thomas knows what all of my very conservative, dear Black friends know is,” the Texas Republican began, “nobody is treated more brutally in this country than a conservative Black.”
“And it’s just like Justice Thomas said at his hearing, he was the victim of a high-tech lynching and I would submit, anyone that continues that abuse, is further contributing… to the same high-tech lynching,” he argued.
Gohmert was followed by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Black Democrat from New York, who wasted no time in shutting down Gohmert’s argument.
“You know, my distinguished colleague from Texas just made the observation that Justice Thomas has been subjected to a high-tech lynching was quite extraordinary,” Jeffries said before providing real examples of impropriety by Thomas.
To make his point, Jeffries addressed Gabe Roth, the executive director of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for non-ideological fixes that would make the federal courts, and primarily the U.S. Supreme Court, more open and more accountable,
“Let me go to Professor Sherman and Mr. Roth, because this notion that Clarence Thomas is being singled out, because he’s a black conservative, whatever that means,” Jeffries said. “I think it’s belied by the fact that if you look at example, after example, it seems to be troubling instances where he’s making rulings in cases where his wife has a clear interest.”
“In 2010 Ginni Thomas was the president and CEO of a dark money group called Liberty central stood to benefit from the outcome of the Citizens United decision. Mr. Roth, did Justice Thomas recuse himself from that case?”
“He did not,” Roth replied.
“Okay,” Jeffries continued. “That same group, apparently paid anytime as $120,000 per year to actively lobby for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. She was paid to try to bring about an outcome that was at issue in the National Federation of Independent Business versus civilians case. Did Justice Thomas recuse himself from that case?
“He did not,” Roth said.
“In 2017, a group called the Center for Security Policy filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to support Trump’s outrageous Muslim ban. At the same time, that amicus brief was filed anytime was was being paid roughly $200,000 in consulting fees, according to IRS documents. Did Justice Thomas recuse himself from that case?” the New York Democrat asked.
“He did not,” was Roth’s answer.
“And then we’ve got the most recent example in a parade of horrible,” Jeffries said. “Interesting how my friends want to focus on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may she rest in peace.”
“We got someone who’s actually on the Supreme Court right now making decisions actively in cases where his wife has clear interests. Text messages reveal that she was in active communication with the former White House Chief of Staff, as it relates to perpetuating the big lie that Donald Trump somehow won the 2020 election, notwithstanding no evidence to suggest that in fact is true. And Justice Thomas is the only justice who decides that those documents should not be released, his wife’s documents to not be released every other conservative justice in that case, voted that those documents should be released. Do you think it might have been appropriate the Justice Thomas to recuse himself in that particular case?” he said.
“Yes, his wife’s interests are clearly implicated in that case,” Roth replied.
“Thank you, sir. Thank you for your testimony. I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you,” Jeffries concluded.
Watch the video below:
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly reflect the name of Ginni Thomas. It previously appeared as “Ginny Thomas.”