The Senate confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas following his nomination to the Supreme Court were some of the most contentious in history. There was a great deal of controversy as Anita Hill, a former employee at The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), who accused him of sexual harassment, was called on by senators to provide her testimony and expose any inconsistencies between their stories. After being questioned for over three days with little success or resolution one senator decided that it would be best for justice if those proceedings never happened again.
On the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 26, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas listens as President Trump addresses.
Associated Press photo by Patrick Semansky
“The days of a wife’s ideas being expected to be the same as her husband’s are long gone.”
Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, made this argument in 2013. Since news came last week that Virginia Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, sent text messages to Donald Trump’s White House top of staff Mark Meadows pushing him to challenge the 2020 election results, the professor’s name has been reported by nearly every major media site.
Mr. Gillers was hailed as a “judicial ethics specialist” by the Los Angeles Times, and as “one of the nation’s finest legal-ethics experts” by the New York Times. However, the professor’s ethics, like those of many liberal Democrats these days, turn out to be situational. He was defending late-Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision not to recuse himself from a case involving the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013, despite the fact that Reinhart’s wife, Ramona Ripston, had served as the ACLU’s Southern California executive director.
“Ms. Ripston’s beliefs, perspectives, and public affirmations of support for the district court ruling… do not generate any reasonable cause to doubt Judge Reinhardt’s capacity to execute his oath of office,” said Mr. Gillers and four others in a friend-of-the-court brief. “An adverse result would render a judge’s spouse unable to assume any advocate post, thus imposing a marital penalty.”
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Reinhardt has developed a reputation as one of the most liberal justices on one of the most liberal appellate courts in the country. Which might explain why Mr. Gillers and his passionate supporters have altered their minds. He’s now telling reporters that “don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t an appropriate tactic for the Thomases’ marriage. “Both have crossed a threshold and do not deserve a second chance.”
Justice Thomas and his wife, to anybody who isn’t wearing ideological blinders, are just as worthy of the benefit of the doubt as Reinhardt and his wife were. There are plenty such instances. The ACLU’s national legal director, David Cole, is married to Judge Cornelia Pillard of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives was the spouse of Alice Batchelder, a judge on the Sixth Circuit. When her husband, Ed Rendell, was governor of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Marjorie Rendell was an appellate judge. When these judges were forced to recuse themselves from a case owing to a conflict of interest, they did so with confidence.
Critics of Justice Thomas want to hold him to a different standard rather than a higher one. This year, the high court will hear issues regarding abortion, gun control, affirmative action, and religious liberty. The objective of the left is to reduce his power—and, by implication, the power of the court’s conservative side. And, given that the target is Justice Thomas, who has been driving his ideological foes insane for the last 30 years, everything goes.
Senator Amy Klobuchar told ABC News on Sunday, “The facts are apparent here.” “You’ve got the wife of a sitting Supreme Court judge calling for an uprising.” Unless the senator knows something the rest of us don’t, they aren’t the facts. There is no proof that Mrs. Thomas urged for violence or had anything to do with the Trump supporters’ ransacking of the Capitol. It’s a slander to lump her in with those who did. All we know is that she advised Mr. Meadows to “hold strong” in the face of a “heist” on the election. If a matter involving Mrs. Thomas or her actions comes before the court, Justice Thomas may decide on recusal at that time.
Ms. Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also seemed as if she was pressuring Chief Justice John Roberts to do the bidding of her Democratic colleagues in Congress. “Right now, all I hear from the Supreme Court is quiet,” she added, adding that this should change in the next week. “Not only should [Justice Thomas] disqualify himself, but this Supreme Court desperately needs ethical regulations,” says the author. The chief justice has made no secret of his concern about the court’s image. Bending to the politics and emotions of the day, as suggested by folks like Ms. Klobuchar, is one way to tarnish that image.
Clarence Thomas is the court’s longest-serving member, and his jurisprudence has remained constant throughout the years. When it comes to recusal decisions, we expect judges to act professionally and with integrity, and Justice Thomas has earned our confidence.
The leftist onslaught on Justice Clarence Thomas concludes the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, according to a Journal editorial. Zuma Press/Associated Press Mark Kelly’s composite
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The print issue of the March 30, 2022, was published.