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Petition Calling for Clarence Thomas’s Impeachment Reaches 1 Million Signatures

Though only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached, the current circumstances are unprecedented.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 2021.

A petition calling for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be impeached has reached over 1 million signatures in the wake of numerous extremist right-wing Court decisions and an ethics scandal over Thomas’s familial ties to the January 6 Capitol attack.

The petition, posted on MoveOn, had nearly 1,078,000 signatures as of Monday morning, nearing its goal of 1.1 million total signers. It calls for Thomas to be impeached and removed from the Court over his decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, his threats to go after rights to gay marriage and contraception, and his failure to recuse himself from cases involving the far right’s attempted coup, which his wife Ginni Thomas had a hand in organizing.

“Thomas’ failure to recuse himself warrants immediate investigation and heightened alarm. And it’s only the latest in a long history of conflicts of interest in the service of a right-wing agenda and mixing his powerful role with his conservative political activism,” the petition reads. “He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife’s coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court. He must resign or Congress must immediately investigate and impeach.”

The petition has been amassing signatures quickly; as of last Wednesday, the petition had only about 455,000 signatures. There is no legal mandate to act on the petition, but it is a show of the public’s dissatisfaction with the extremist Supreme Court.

Impeaching a Supreme Court justice is similar to the process to impeaching presidents. The House would vote on impeachment, and the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether or not to remove the justice. Only one justice has ever been impeached Justice Samuel Chase in 1805 but the Senate voted to acquit.

Current circumstances surrounding the Supreme Court are unprecedented, however. The court’s far right justices have been on a rampage over the past two weeks, overturning decisions with, in at least one case, hundreds of years of precedent, and yanking rights away from the public at an extraordinary pace. The justices, with Thomas in concurrence, have ruled to overturn Roe, limit the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses, and threaten Native American sovereignty by allowing states to prosecute crimes on tribal lands, among other rulings.

In March, Thomas was the only justice to vote against the release of presidential records related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which former President Donald Trump had attempted to block. Thomas’s dissenting vote was widely condemned as being the result of a conflict of interest, as evidence shows that his wife had leveraged her proximity to Republican officials to campaign to overturn the 2020 election.

Some lawmakers have been calling for Supreme Court justices to be impeached in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said last week that Thomas should be impeached for his refusal to recuse himself from the January 6 records case and his nearly decade-long failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of income to his wife from the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation.

Ocasio-Cortez has also called for Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett to be impeached for lying under oath after lawmakers recorded testimony showing that the far right justices lied about not wanting to overturn landmark precedents like Roe during their confirmation hearings. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) has also asked for impeachment investigations for the justices.

Allowing these lies to pass without consequence is “particularly dangerous” because “it sends a blaring signal to all future nominees that they can now lie to duly elected members of the United States Senate in order to secure Supreme Court confirmations,” Ocasio-Cortez said on NBC last week.

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