Clarence Thomas called to recuse himself from Trump 2024 ballot case

Activists and members of the U.S. Congress are calling on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from a case that will decide whether former President Donald Trump should be removed from Colorado’s voting ballot before the 2024 primary election.

They argue that Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas’ reported ties to Trump disqualify the Supreme Court justice from weighing in on the current litigation over the former president and his eligibility to be on the ballot due to his alleged actions that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (above) is acknowledging that he took three trips last year aboard a private plane owned by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. It’s the first time in years that Thomas has reported receiving hospitality from Crow. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP, File)

In the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, Thomas’ wife tried to persuade lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin to reverse Biden’s victory and declare Trump the winner.

“I think that there is a very clear and evident path here that shows a conflict of interest that would preclude Clarence Thomas from actually being able to be a part of this without having a bias,” Democratic strategist Ameshia Cross told theGrio. 

Cross said it would “make sense” for Thomas to step aside from the case. However, she doesn’t believe he will. 

“I don’t think that there is anything within Clarence Thomas that would make him do so,” she said.

Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way, told theGrio that if Justice Thomas “had a firm grasp of ethics, the law, or a sense of shame,” he “would recuse himself immediately.”

U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas and wife Ginni Thomas
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife, conservative activist Virginia Thomas, last year at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The progressive activist and former mayor of Ithaca, New York, said Ginni Thomas is an “election denier” who “worked around the clock to lay the groundwork for the Jan. 6 insurrection.” 

“For that reason alone, he should recuse himself,” Myrick argued.

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether it is constitutional for Colorado to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot, pursuant to the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits an individual serving as an elected official and who took an oath to defend the constitution from running for office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S.

Last year, on behalf of four Republican and two independent voters, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against Trump, the Colorado Republican Party, and the Colorado secretary of the state to have the former president removed from the primary ballot.

In December 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court granted a decision in favor of CREW. However, all parties petitioned to have the Supreme Court take on the case after Trump’s legal team cited that the Colorado high court has no authority to strip Trump’s name from the ballot.

Former President Donald Trump,
The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday declared former President Donald Trump ineligible for the White House under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause and removed him from the state’s presidential primary ballot, setting up a likely showdown in the nation’s highest court to decide whether the front-runner for the GOP nomination can remain in the race. (Photo: Reba Saldanha/AP, File)

Cross told theGrio that she believes the justices will rule in favor of Trump.

“Judging by the current makeup of the Supreme Court, I think that what they are going to do is find that former President Trump can stay on the ballot,” she predicted. “The federal system has not found him guilty, nor have they charged him with insurrectionist behavior or insurrection in general.”

Before the court renders a verdict, members of Congress launched a campaign to remove Thomas from the case. They say he will not be able to make a fair decision.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and House Judiciary and Oversight Committees members, including Reps. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, N.Y., recently wrote a letter to the Supreme Court demanding Thomas recuse himself from the case.

An excerpt from the congressional letter read, “Your wife was one of nine board members for a conservative political group that helped lead the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement…which culminated in the January 6 attack that the Colorado Supreme Court deemed an insurrection.”

U.S. Supreme Court,
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, with a carving of Justice in the foreground, April 19, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The Democratic lawmakers continued, “Your wife’s income benefits your household, therefore your family, and by extension you personally. You have a financial stake in the outcome of this case, which disqualifies you from any involvement in it.”

Cross told theGrio that Ginni Thomas “isn’t somebody with nine degrees of separation.”

She explained, “This is somebody he comes home to every day, who was actively engaged in not only ratcheting up Jan. 6 insurrectionists but is also someone who is an election denier.”

“There’s absolutely no reason why Clarence Thomas should not recuse himself…his wife played a very active role in what I would describe as one of the most dangerous activities that has happened in the course of American history,” Cross continued.

Myrick of People For the American Way said Justice Thomas “single-handedly brought an enormous cloud of suspicion and mistrust to what should be the highest and most trusted court in the land.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justices,
Members of the Supreme Court sit for a new group portrait following the addition of Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Supreme Court, which he said should be seen as “the most respected political institution in the country,” must “adopt a binding code of ethics.” 

“If they don’t, Congress should do it for them,” said Myrick.

In November 2023, the court adopted a code of ethics for the first time in history; however, the code remains unenforceable. The Supreme Court is the only court in the nation that does not abide by an ethical standard.

“There comes a point where there has to be a code of ethics,” said Cross. “We cannot count on many of these individuals to guide themselves by principle.”

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Activists and U.S. Congress members are urging U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from a case deciding whether former President Trump should be removed from Colorado’s voting ballot. They argue that Thomas’ wife’s ties to Trump disqualify him from the case due to a conflict of interest. This comes after Ginni Thomas reportedly tried to persuade lawmakers to reverse Biden’s victory. Thomas has acknowledged receiving hospitality from a Republican megadonor in the past. The case is pursuant to the 14th Amendment which prohibits individuals engaged in insurrection from running for office. The Colorado Supreme Court already declared Trump ineligible for the ballot, but the case is going to the Supreme Court. Many believe that Thomas will not recuse himself from the case, despite calls from activists and members of Congress for him to do so. They argue that Ginni Thomas played an active role in the January 6 insurrection and her actions make Clarence Thomas’ involvement inappropriate. Members of Congress have launched a campaign to remove Thomas from the case, citing a conflict of interest and his wife’s involvement in the insurrection.

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