I spent all weekend being a punching bag for Trumpers. Here's why I have no regrets.
Given Ginni Thomas's involvement in a coup attempt, the nature of her marriage is very much in the public interest.
Over the weekend, I managed to attract the attention of the extremely online right for a tweet I posted about Clarence and Ginni Thomas. Given that I write a lot about right-wing media and am now driving traffic to it through no fault of my own, I thought it’d be appropriate to devote part of today’s newsletter to explaining why I stand by what I tweeted.
The tweet in question featured a clip of an interview Clarence did with Ginni Thomas that was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation in 2018. In it, Ginni asks her husband what the best part of being on SCOTUS is. He replies by saying he couldn’t do it without her.
“It’d be impossible without you. It’s sorta like, how do you run with one leg? You can’t. It makes it whole when I have my wife,” he said.
My tweet quickly went viral, mostly because right-wingers ranging from DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw to Ohio US Senate candidate JD Vance decided it would be easy to reframe as a woke left journalist denigrating a conservative couple’s loving marriage. (Libs, as you know, hate marriage. No liberal has ever been married.)
Some even spun it into a commentary on my own marriage (sorry, sweetie).
The dunks transcended Twitter. My tweet was the subject of articles in publications like TheBlaze, The Federalist, and Fox News, which is sort of understandable, since there’s nothing else really going on right now.
Willfully or not, all of this ignores why I thought the clip is notable. While it’s great that the Thomases enjoy a loving marriage, the context is that Ginni is currently in the news because of text messages she sent to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows providing encouragement and advice to the Trump coup plotters as they tried to end US democracy in the weeks leading up to the January 6 insurrection. She also expressed belief in crazed QAnon-style conspiracy theories about election fraud.
“Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states,” she wrote in one.
Another said, “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.”
As nuts as texts like that may be, they wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal if Justice Thomas and Ginni had separate professional and personal lives. But not only is there plenty of evidence that they don’t, a unique aspect of their marriage is that they’re both far-right ideologues.
A New York Magazine profile of the Thomases published in February details how they have “defied” norms meant to avoid the perception that justices and their families are partisan activists. Here’s an excerpt:
Ginni Thomas insists … that she and her husband operate in “separate professional lanes,” but those lanes in fact merge with notable frequency. For the three decades he has sat on the Supreme Court, they have worked in tandem from the bench and the political trenches to take aim at targets like Roe v. Wade and affirmative action. Together they believe that “America is in a vicious battle for its founding principles,” as Ginni Thomas has put it. Her views, once seen as on the fringe, have come to dominate the Republican Party. And with Trump’s three appointments reshaping the Supreme Court, her husband finds himself at the center of a new conservative majority poised to shake the foundations of settled law. In a nation freighted with division and upheaval, the Thomases have found their moment.
The texts Thomas exchanged with Meadows don’t specifically mention her husband, but one does mention a “best friend” who apparently encouraged her to keep fighting to overturn Trump’s loss. The Washington Post has the details:
When Meadows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to overturn the election. “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”
Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”
As Paul Blumenthal details for HuffPost, Clarence has a long history of referring to Ginni as his “best friend.” So while it’s not completely clear who Ginni is referring to in that text, it’d be surprising if it was anyone but her husband.
As a federal judge recently acknowledged in a ruling that says Trump likely committed felonies while trying to overturn his loss, the scheming leading up to the January 6 insurrection was a plot against the Constitution. That is a document Justice Thomas is sworn to protect, so any indication he was involved in the Trump coup attempt is a very big deal. And that’s why I thought the clip of Thomas referring to his wife as his second leg was worth highlighting.
Ginni’s texts, which were part of a batch Meadows turned over to the January 6 committee before he stopped cooperating, have sparked calls for her husband to recuse himself from cases pertaining to the insurrection. It appears Thomas may already have violated a statue requiring federal judges to stay out of cases where their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” That’s because in January, Thomas authored the lone public dissent in a case rejecting Trump’s bid to prevent the January 6 committee from obtaining his White House papers. Those papers included Meadows’s texts, possibly included others he exchanged with Ginni.
Did Justice Thomas know that his wife had been texting with Meadows when he voted to prevent those documents from becoming public knowledge? There’s no hard evidence he did. But given the sort of relationship he enjoys with his wife, it’s hard to believe he didn’t.
Absolute lunacy at the Trump rally
My in-laws stayed with us over the weekend, so I had to take a rare pass on live-tweeting Trump’s rally on Saturday in Washington, Michigan. But I do want to highlight the cultish way in which preacher Rick Warzywak kicked off the festivities.