Clarence and Ginni Thomas, the judge and the activist united in ultra-conservatism

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (L) and his wife Virginia in Washington, October 21, 2021 ( Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP )

African-American Clarence Thomas, the most right-wing justice of the United States Supreme Court, and his wife Ginni, an activist involved in Donald Trump’s post-election crusade, are finding it increasingly difficult to convince the tightness of their careers.

Married for 35 years, united in a fighting conservatism, this powerful couple has been in a delicate position since the disclosure of SMS and emails attesting to Madame’s efforts to influence the result of the 2020 presidential election.

Invited for months to discuss it with the parliamentary commission investigating the assault on the Capitol, Virginia, known as Ginni, Thomas has just agreed to testify before these elected officials on an unspecified date.

“Ms. Thomas is eager to answer questions from the commission to clarify any misinterpretation of her work in connection with the 2020 election,” her lawyer Mark Paoletta said in a statement sent Thursday evening to several media.

This 65-year-old lobbyist, who has been gravitating in ultra-conservative circles in Washington for years, had called for a demonstration on January 6, 2021 in the capital to contest the victory of Joe Biden. She claims to have caught cold and left before the crowd attacked the headquarters of Congress.

Virginia Thomas, wife of a Supreme Court justice, at a conservative rally in Maryland, February 23, 2017
Virginia Thomas, wife of a Supreme Court justice, at a conservative rally in Maryland on February 23, 2017 ( CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives )

Did she play a more active role in this coup? Between November 2020 and January 2021, she sent more than 20 messages to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s chief of staff, imploring him to “not concede” defeat. “It takes time for an army to form,” she wrote to him in particular in these text messages reproduced by the press.

However, at the same time, Donald Trump multiplied the legal actions and had asked the Supreme Court to intervene in his favor. Clarence Thomas had been the only one of the nine magistrates of the high court to support this appeal.

The left castigated an apparent conflict of interest and called on the judge to recuse himself from any electoral file.

“Like so many married couples, we share the same ideals (…) but we also have our own, distinct careers,” swept Ginni Thomas in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. “Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me and I don’t involve him in my work.”

Camping car

The couple have been accustomed to weathering the storms together since Republican President George HW Bush in 1991 chose the lawyer with impeccable conservative records to join the Supreme Court.

During a hearing in the Senate, broadcast live on television, one of his former assistants accused him of sexual harassment. Entirely denying, he had denounced a “high-tech lynching”.

Ginni Thomas, his second wife married in 1987, had stood by his side without failing and had also denounced “a trial by fire”.

Judge Clarence Thomas on November 30, 2018 in Washington
Judge Clarence Thomas on November 30, 2018 in Washington (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Hurt by this ordeal and for a long time in the minority within the Temple of Law because of his radical views, Clarence Thomas had then taken refuge in silence, remaining for years without asking a single question during the hearings.

In the summer with his wife, this motorhome enthusiast liked not to be recognized in the country’s campsites or in the parking lots of Walmart supermarkets where he parked his huge vehicle.

He has had his revenge since Donald Trump brought into the Court three judges with views close to his own. He who has long deplored that the high court neglects the defense of firearms, he wrote in June a judgment enshrining the right of Americans to leave their homes armed.

When the Court dynamited the right to abortion, he went further than his colleagues by wishing, in a separate argument, to review the rights to contraception or homosexual marriage.

Very attached to personal freedoms, he is hostile to positive discrimination programs, which he nevertheless benefited from to enter the prestigious Yale University. The subject will be on the menu of the Court in November and its opinion should weigh.

Here again, the parallels with his wife are striking: in the early 1990s, a lawyer at the Ministry of Labor, she argued against a law which would have imposed the payment of women at the same salary as men.

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