Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday demanded that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas be recused from any cases related to the 2020 election, arguing that his wife texting a White House aide about overturning the election is a “textbook case for removing him.”
“You have the wife of a Supreme Court justice advocating for an insurrection, advocating for overturning a legal election to the sitting president’s chief of staff,” Klobuchar said on ABC News’ “This Week,” referring to Ginni Thomas’ recently unearthed text messages to Mark Meadows.
“She also knows this election, these cases, are going to come before her husband,” Klobuchar added. “This is a textbook case for removing him, recusing him from these decisions and all I hear is silence right now from the Supreme Court and that better change in the coming week.”
The Supreme Court has not waded into any election cases brought by former President Donald Trump or other Republicans, but Clarence Thomas has considered whether the court should hear them. And earlier this year, he was the only justice to disagree with allowing the release of White House documents to House lawmakers investigating last year’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. The justice did not give a reason.
Federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, are required under federal law to recuse themselves from any proceeding if they have any related financial interest, if a close relative is involved, if they previously participated in the case as an attorney, or if their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
Klobuchar cited Thomas’ recusal from a 1995 case that involved a school his son was attending. She also brought up Justice Stephen Breyer recusing himself from a case because his wife served on a board related to the case, and said this situation is no different.
“The ethics rules that apply to all the other federal judges say that if it involves a family member, appearance of impartiality, they have to recuse themselves,” Klobuchar said. “Not only should he recuse himself but this Supreme Court badly needs ethics rules.”
Ginni Thomas’ nearly two dozen texts to Meadows were published last week as part of a House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Her messages were sent over a three-month period, from November 2020 to January 2021, and included conspiracy theories about the election being stolen from Trump.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also spoke out against the Supreme Court justice on Friday, insisting that he recuse himself from any case related to the Jan. 6 investigation and any future case related to the 2024 election, should Trump run again.
“Judges are obligated to recuse themselves when their participation in a case would create even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Wyden said in a statement. “A person with an ounce of common sense could see that the bar is met here.”
On the other side, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he believes Clarence Thomas can make decisions for himself.