Justice Thomas should recuse himself when it comes to Donald Trump

Justice Thomas and his wife have every right to support Trump and call for his return to the Oval Office. But since the high court is actively involved in deciding Trump’s political future (if not his criminality), Justice Thomas can only damage the court’s reputation by being present.

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Editorials

March 21, 2022 - 1:59 PM

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, has made clear her belief that the November 2020 election was stolen. She attended Donald Trump’s Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6, 2021, but claims she left before Trump spoke to the crowd and directed his supporters toward the Capitol. The premise behind the rally was clear: to assert that Joe Biden was not elected fairly and that Trump was the rightful winner. Such assertions have been debunked repeatedly in state election audits, and close to 60 court decisions have gone against Trump’s challenges.

Ginni Thomas, however, made clear she did not respect those court decisions and attended a rally whose sole purpose was to keep Trump in power. She insists she had no role in the insurrection and that her political views don’t influence her husband. Given her ongoing public activity on Trump’s behalf and her husband’s demonstrated bias favoring Trump, it’s time for Justice Thomas to formally recuse himself from all future cases involving Trump and the insurrection. 

No one can force a sitting justice to recuse, but many do it anyway — specifically because they do not want to create a public perception that personal bias sways their judgment on the bench. Justice Thomas and his wife have every right to support Trump and call for his return to the Oval Office. But since the high court is actively involved in deciding Trump’s political future (if not his criminality), Justice Thomas can only damage the court’s reputation by being present.

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