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Beyer Statement On Justice Clarence Thomas

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) issued the following statement today on revelations that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Clarence Thomas, sent numerous text messages to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in late 2020 urging the overturning of the 2020 presidential election:

“The text messages between Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows are a major revelation deserving of more attention and more substantive action in response than they have received. The wife of a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court sought the advancement of an effort to overturn the results of fair and lawful elections based on wild conspiracy theories and QAnon claims. An effort she knew would likely be heard by her husband, and nevertheless she continued even as her husband considered related cases, in the pursuit of an undertaking led by Donald Trump which a federal judge now says more likely than not constituted a federal crime.

“It beggars belief to suggest that Justice Thomas was wholly ignorant of his wife’s efforts to overturn the election. Nevertheless he was the lone dissent in a key disclosure case, and refused to publicly explain that vote. Justice Thomas’ failure to recuse himself from consideration of cases related to the 2020 presidential election and the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol now looks extremely suspicious in hindsight, and will undoubtedly damage public trust in the Court.

“It is extremely clear that the spirit and the letter of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges requires that Justice Thomas must recuse from this and future cases involving Donald Trump’s presidential electoral ambitions, the 2020 campaign, and January 6th – but a simple recusal is not enough. This incident is just the latest in a long series of instances where Justice Thomas refused to properly recuse himself from cases where there was a clear conflict of interest posed by his spouse’s activities.

“If Justice Thomas is unable or unwilling to rectify this behavior he should leave the Court, but since he is unlikely to hold himself to such a standard it is imperative that the Court receive serious, meaningful ethics reforms. Ideally those would be imposed by the Court itself through the auspices of the Chief Justice. But if such reform is not directly forthcoming, Congress should enact clear, rigorous ethical standards to help restore public trust and accountability for the Judicial Branch.

“Ginni Thomas’ texts also merit further investigation. There is reportedly a gap in the messages covering the six weeks leading up to and several days following January 6th, a particularly notable period given Thomas’ admission that she attended that day’s rally. The sudden emergence of these messages and other recent developments related to January 6th demonstrate there is still a great deal the American people do not yet know about the effort to overturn the 2020 election and imperil our democracy. It is vital that those facts be established with all possible speed.”

The Code of Conduct for United States Judges states that a “judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:

(c) the judge knows that the judge, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding;”