Another day, another ethics complaint against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In 1991, when President George H. W. Bush nominated Thomas to succeed retiring Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, we learned during the confirmation hearings about the alleged sexual harassment that Anita Hill endured while they both worked at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The evidence against him was overwhelming and persuasive, but despite very convincing testimony given by Hill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was still appointed to the Supreme Court by a vote of 52-48, what was then considered the narrowest of margins. That is damning. But seeing how Brett Kavanaugh was appointed on a vote of 50-48, an even narrower margin in 2018, despite clear evidence of sexual harassment, it seems to be par for the course.
Apparently, conservative men can sexually harass women with impunity. Allegedly. Their careers do not suffer because of it. In fact, they are promoted despite it.
Then there are the shenanigans, and by shenanigans I mean complicit acts to overturn an election, that Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife engages in.
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas could have lived a quiet and charmed life. She could’ve been the overly silent partner in the Thomas household, a feat that would’ve likely been impossible considering Justice Thomas’ known silence on the bench. But Ginni Thomas is loud. Annoyingly loud. So loud that she has no problem championing the causes she believes in ― which all seem to be in perfect alignment with far-right conservative values, and it’s confusing, considering her husband sits on the highest court in the land.
She is, to no surprise if you pay attention to the decisions her husband writes, a very vocal and boisterous conservative activist. She not only works with groups who have submitted briefs that go before the Supreme Court, but she also had dealings with Leonard Leo, a conservative judicial activist who reportedly worked to influence the federal courts.
The Washington Post reported that Leonard ordered $25,000 be given to Ginni through a nonprofit group he advises without reporting that he did. So let’s say she didn’t work for him. Kind of like when I was in high school shoveling cow manure at my cousin’s farm ― I wasn’t an employee, but I helped and got paid off the books, or “under the table.”
Then there was 2020.
Where we found Ginni Thomas knee-deep in trying to help overturn the lawful election of Joe Biden to the presidency of the United States, going so far as to send text messages to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. And what should have been the last straw, she was present at the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, that preceded the attack on the Capitol, which was trying to disrupt a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the presidential election results.
She may not have broken into the Capitol on Jan. 6, but she almost certainly viewed those who did as patriots. And instead of realizing that she was playing with fire, she doubled down on her beliefs and told the Jan. 6 committee that she still believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Clarence Thomas’ wife is a class act, and by class act, I mean an insurrectionist. Or, at least, insurrectionist-adjacent.
This brings us to 2023 and the revelations that Justice Thomas has, for years, had a strange relationship with GOP megadonor and billionaire Harlan Crow. Thomas accepted trips from Crow. Crow even put Thomas’ grandnephew through a private boarding school. Thomas also sold several properties in Savannah, Georgia, to Crow in 2014 (including the house in which his mother still lives) without disclosing the deal as a federal law requires him to do.
To put it bluntly, for many years, Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, has been in the pocket of Harlan Crow.
If this were the days before Trump, Thomas would almost certainly be ousted from the court because what he and his wife have been up to creates a clear conflict of interest to what he has been tasked to do as a supposedly impartial justice on the Supreme Court. Yet, post-Trump, Thomas has been allowed to break the rules of the court with relative impunity. Yes, his reputation has taken a hit, but, otherwise, he is not tarnished by these revelations.
The late Thurgood Marshall must be spinning in his grave.
When Marshall ― the Supreme Court justice who famously brought the Brown v. Board of Education case before the court as a litigator with the NAACP in 1953 ― retired, Clarence Thomas was nominated because, let’s be honest, he was Black. It was not because his judicial philosophy matched that of Marshall. It was not because his demeanor was like the retiring judge. He was appointed because he was a conservative Black man, and Bush wanted to put a conservative on the court, and he needed a person who looked like Marshall to take that seat.
The result of that nomination and appointment has been nothing short of a near disaster for Black and brown people in this country. The only thing that kept Thomas in check was the fact that he was a conservative judge on a court that was unwilling to go as far right as he would’ve liked. But now, in the aftermath of a Trump presidency, the court, much like the rest of America, is a mess.
But even for this far-right, anti-abortion SCOTUS, Clarence Thomas has become too much of a liability.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., would never come out and verbally bash Thomas. But he is a stickler for the image of the Supreme Court, and he cares a great deal about how the American people perceive those who sit on the highest court in the land. And while Roberts is by no means a liberal, even he must be incensed at Thomas’ behavior. I imagine Roberts looking at the clock wondering if it is time for the Black man from Pin Point, Georgia, to retire.
Clarence Thomas has never been for the betterment of his people. And now, after countless number of ethical violations, which all could’ve been prevented if he had simply read his HR paperwork (you know, the part that notes he has to disclose any gifts over $1,000), Thomas has not only ignored the will of the people, he has ignored his duty to the court and America.
While I can accept my grandmother’s credo: that “yo skinfolk ain’t always yo kinfolk,” I can’t accept Clarence Thomas spending another day in his lifetime appointment knowing that he’s been the least compliant and the most complicit.
It’s time for Clarence Thomas to pack up his things and quietly leave out the backdoor.