A majority of Americans believe that Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any future Supreme Court cases relating to the 2020 presidential election, due to his wife Ginni Thomas’s involvement in plans to overturn the results to keep former President Donald Trump in office.
Last month, it was revealed that Ginni Thomas had sent dozens of text messages to Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to take the lead in challenging President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential race. Thomas cited false claims of election fraud — which have been debunked numerous times — as her justification for doing so.
Within the 29 texts that she exchanged with Meadows, Thomas told him that he needed to “make a plan” to “save us from the left.” In another conversation, she called Biden’s win “the greatest Heist of our History.”
Ginni Thomas admitted in mid-March that she attended the “Stop the Steal” rally that Trump held outside the White House on January 6, 2021, an event that led hundreds of Trump loyalists to attack the Capitol building during the certification of the Electoral College. Thomas said that she did not play a role in organizing the rally, and claimed that she left early due to the temperatures that day, before the mob descended upon the Capitol building.
Ginni Thomas has previously said that she and her husband never discuss her right-wing advocacy work or his Supreme Court cases in private. But Clarence Thomas has never recused himself from any case that involved his wife, despite Supreme Court standards that encourage justices to recuse themselves when their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll published this week, 53 percent of voters believe that Thomas should recuse himself from cases that involve his wife, while only 28 percent said that he shouldn’t have to do so. Another 19 percent said that they didn’t know or had no opinion on the matter.
Thomas’s favorability rating in the poll is also low. Just 28 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Supreme Court justice, while 36 percent say they see him in an unfavorable light.
Other polls have asked about a specific case that dealt with documents relating to the Capitol attack, noting that the Supreme Court ruled on a matter relating to January 6 documents being given to the House select committee investigating the day’s events. Clarence Thomas was the only justice to dissent in that case, saying that Trump should have been allowed to appeal a lower court’s decision that said those documents had to be handed over to the committee.
A plurality of respondents in an Economist/YouGov poll published this week agreed that Thomas’s participation in the case was wrong, given that his wife was directly involved in discussing strategies to undo the election with Trump officials. Forty-eight percent of respondents said that he shouldn’t have taken part in ruling on the case, while only a quarter of respondents (24 percent) said that his involvement was acceptable.