Senate

Judiciary chair calls on Justice Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) speaks to reporters on Monday, January 31, 2022 to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court nominee process in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Greg Nash

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Monday that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.  

Durbin’s comments come in the wake of reports from late last week that Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s wife, urged then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move aggressively to overturn the 2020 election. Ginni Thomas also disclosed in a recent interview that she took part in the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the riot. 

Durbin said Ginni Thomas’s involvement “really creates an obvious conflict” for her husband on Jan. 6-related cases. 

“For the good of the court I think he should recuse himself from those cases,” Durbin added. 

The reporting on Ginni Thomas’s contact with Meadows has raised fresh scrutiny of how Clarence Thomas has handled cases tied to Jan. 6 and the 2020 election. 

In January, the Supreme Court blocked former President Trump’s bid to keep administration records from being handed to the Jan. 6 House committee. The decision was 8-1, with Thomas as the lone dissent. It’s unclear if Ginni Thomas’s messages would have been in the White House records being disputed in court. 

Thomas also dissented in a February 2021 decision by the Supreme Court to turn away a challenge to Pennsylvania’s election results. Thomas wrote that the decision was “baffling” and “befuddling.”  

Durbin is one of several Democrats who have called for Thomas to recuse himself from any cases related to Jan. 6. Other Democrats have also said that he should recuse himself from cases involving the 2024 election if Trump runs again. 

Other Democrats have floated requiring a code of ethics for the Supreme Court or even considered launching a congressional committee investigation. 

Durbin didn’t rule out an investigation in the future but said that his focus for now is getting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court pick, confirmed. 

“So there’s plenty of time and plenty of reason for us to debate this in the future. But for the time being, I want to make sure this vacancy is filled with Judge Jackson,” Durbin said.

Tags Clarence Thomas Dick Durbin Donald Trump Ginni Thomas Jan. 6 Capitol attack Joe Biden Ketanji Brown Jackson Mark Meadows Supreme Court conflict of interest

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