As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in the Colorado ballot removal appeal, ABC News has taken this opportunity to further efforts to get Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from this and other potential matters related to the ongoing prosecutions of former President Donald Trump. Hence, tonight’s cheap hit job.
Watch as anchor Linsey Davis frames the report, which aired on ABC News Live Prime:
LINSEY DAVIS: As the Supreme Court prepares to take on a challenge to Donald Trump’s eligibility for the ballot. Tonight, we’re taking a critical at Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence, and claims that her role in the campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election pose a major conflict of interest for the sitting Supreme Court justice. Democrats say as a result, Justice Thomas must recuse himself from the Trump cases. So what comes next?
After a few seconds, the interview jumps to Gabe Roth, executive director of an activist nonprofit called “Fix the Court”, which is best known for leaking its funders to The Washington Examiner. Per the Examiner’s reporting, Fix The Court was funded by the Hewlett Foundation, and by the New Venture Fund- a 501c(3) funded by Arabella Advisors, a notorious dark money network. This is one of the designated leftwing critics of Justice Thomas, along with Professor Lawrence Tribe and Professor James Sample. Along with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), they make the bulk of the arguments for Thomas’ recusal.
There is only one such advocate for Justice Thomas, and that would be Carrie Severino, head of the Judicial Network (JCN). Severino doesn’t nearly get as much time as the anti-Thomas speakers, and her precious few quotes are chopped up. We just don’t get to hear much of her, unlike the disproportionate time given to the others.
The piece aims at pressuring Thomas by using his wife, longtime conservative activist Ginni Thomas, as leverage. It is a most unsavory tactic. Unfortunately, recent history has shown that there has been no lack of imagination for unsavory tactics when it comes to dislodging originalists and conservatives from the Court or hectoring them into ruling as the left wishes them to rule.
The line that runs through the onslaught against then-Judge Kavanaugh, the illegal pre-Dobbs protests at the homes of the conservative justices, and this hit job is the left’s uncontrolled urge to undermine the Court. As these cases continue to come before the Court, we can expect more such cheap hit pieces.
Exit question: given the amount of Acela Media types married to known Democrat operatives, is disqualification-by-spousal association really a wise tactic to pursue?
Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the full report as aired on ABC News Live Prime on Monday, February 6th, 2024:
LINSEY DAVIS: As the Supreme Court prepares to take on a challenge to Donald Trump’s eligibility for the ballot. Tonight, we’re taking a critical at Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence, and claims that her role in the campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election pose a major conflict of interest for the sitting Supreme Court justice. Democrats say as a result, Justice Thomas must recuse himself from the Trump cases. So what comes next? Devin Dwyer has tonight’s prime focus.
DEVIN DWYER: As President Trump’s supporters rallied on January 6th to overturn results of the 2020 election, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was there.
GABE ROTH: Ginni Thomas was a supporter of Donald Trump’s from pretty early on, and she has maintained that support even through today.
DWYER: Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, cheered the crowd on Facebook before violence broke out at the Capitol, writing “God bless each of you standing up”. Longtime conservative activist Thomas had direct access to the Trump White House and helped lead the so-called “Stop The Steal” campaign to keep Trump in power.
ROTH: And then those attempts to overturn the election was what led to the insurrection, which is what led to Trump being kicked off the ballot in Colorado.
DWYER: The decision by Colorado’s highest court last year to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment is now a historic case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
DONALD TRUMP: They say we lost. We didn’t lose.
DWYER: A key question is whether Trump had engaged in insurrection by attempting to prevent Joe Biden’s victory.
LAWRENCE TRIBE: I would hope the justices who are very reluctant to keep Donald Trump off the ballot would take this language seriously and would realize that they are rendering a decision not just for today, but for the ages.
DWYER: But there is also the question of whether justice can be truly blind.
DICK DURBIN: I’m afraid Justice Thomas, through his family, has crossed that line and he should recuse himself so there’s no question of bias in his decision.
DWYER: Critics say the activities of Ginni Thomas pose a conflict of interest for her husband.
JAMES SAMPLE: He will be ruling on a case that could determine whether or not the events his wife participated in amounted to an insurrection against the United States of America.
DWYER: Top Democrats have implored Justice Thomas to step aside. Members of the House Judiciary Committee writing him last month, “It is unthinkable that you could be impartial.” Adding, “Ms. Thomas has shown a fervent bias in favor of Mr. Trump, and it’s hard to believe that her bias has no impact on you.”
SAMPLE: The question isn’t should Ginni Thomas be allowed or not allowed to engage in political advocacy? The question here is: should Clarence Thomas, when Ginni Thomas engages in that political advocacy, be allowed to rule on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of that advocacy?
DWYER: Justice Thomas has not responded to Democrats’ demands and has not said whether he’ll recuse from the case. But his defenders say their calls are nothing more than a political ploy.
CARRIE SEVERINO: I think there are people who would like to see Justice Thomas not deciding this case and therefore they’re going to attack him.
DWYER: Late last year, all nine justices signed the Supreme Court’s new ethics code, which says justices should disqualify themselves when impartiality might be reasonably questioned. Or when the justice or a spouse has a financial interest in the case. But neither the justices nor their spouses are formally bound by the code, and each justice gets to make recusal decisions on his or her own.
SEVERINO: It has to do with what is a reasonable appearance of impropriety.
DWYER: The Thomases did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment. Justice Thomas has already participated in cases that directly or indirectly involved the 2020 election. In all but one case, he did not recuse.
SEVERINO: Productivity is her activity, completely apart from the fact that she is and was not involved in anything illegal on that day at all.
DWYER: Ginni Thomas has said she had no role in planning the January 6th event and that she was disappointed, frustrated that there was violence. And in testimony before the January 6th committee, Thomas insisted she does not discuss politics or cases with her husband as an ironclad rule.
Can’t we take them at their word?
SAMPLE: Whether or not Clarence and Ginni Thomas discussed these issues in the privacy of their own personal conversations is not the issue. It’s in the public domain that this case can implicate Ginni Thomas in ways that are particularly important to her and thus derivatively important to Justice Thomas. This is the easiest recusal analysis case you could ever imagine.
DWYER: No doubt.
SAMPLE: No doubt. This is as straightforward as it gets.
DWYER: Ginni Thomas’ battle for conservative principles as a political consultant has stretched more than 30 years and distinguishes her from other Supreme Court spouses.
GINNI THOMAS: America is in a vicious battle for its founding principles.
May we all have guns and concealed carry to handle what’s coming.
ROTH: I don’t think there’s any peer, frankly, in terms of the political activism of Ginni Thomas. She stands alone.
DWYER: After the 2020 election, Thomas immediately engaged top Republican officials to fight the results, according to messages reviewed by ABC News to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. She texted, “help this great president stand firm, Mark! You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice.” Around the same time, dozens of emails obtained by congressional investigators show Thomas wrote to Republican legislators in Wisconsin and Arizona urging them to overturn on the will of state voters.
ROTH: It’s not sour grapes. It’s enmity. It’s not racism. It’s the fact that your wife wanted to overturn the election. And we have a lot of cases…