Since its founding, the Supreme Court has constantly sought to portray itself as an apolitical and independent organization distant from the two other branches of the American government. Many legal scholars and laypeople have worked to expose this façade, instead describing the Supreme Court as an inherently ideological and partisan institution. The court and its justices are by no means infallible and often undertake morally questionable behavior. Since the creation of the Supreme Court, only a singular justice has been impeached. Yet, the immoral and illegal actions of Clarence Thomas need to be redressed by impeachment hearings.
Clarence Thomas’ time on the bench started with a scandal. As a subordinate to Thomas at the Department of Education, civil rights lawyer Anita Hill argued that Thomas had sexually harassed her and constantly made lewd, sexual comments while at work. A polygraph taken by Hill confirmed her accusations, yet Thomas was later confirmed to the court by a vote of 52-48. While more than 20 years ago, the credible sexual assault allegations of Anita Hill should have prevented Clarence Thomas from ever sitting on the Supreme Court.
Thomas’ style on the Supreme Court is nothing short of unique. The justice once underwent a period of ten years on the bench without asking a single question during a public argument. He has shown a disdain for precedent and often solely files concurrences and dissents that frequently cite his past concurrences and dissents. Of course, none of these actions are impeachable but demonstrate a disregard for the court’s tradition and legitimacy.
Where the genuinely impeachable offenses arise for the conservative justice are based upon the actions of his wife, Virginia (better known as Ginni) Thomas. Thomas’ wife is a far-right extremist: this description is not a hyperbole but the truth. Ginni has argued that the left-wing, in the form of “transsexual fascists,” is ruining the country. Leaked texts that the January 6th Committee possesses show Ginni Thomas contacting former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about overturning the election:
“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!! … You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”
But can a Supreme Court Justice be impeached for the actions of their spouse? The problem arises with a conflict of interest between Ginni’s actions and Thomas’ jurisprudence. Having politically active relatives is not a rare occurrence for Supreme Court Justices. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s husband was a tax lawyer but ended his practice when Ginsburg was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Justice Steven Breyer has always recused himself from cases that his brother, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, has ruled on.
Yet the same cannot be said for Justice Clarence Thomas. Clarence Thomas too often utilizes his incredible political power and lack of accountability to make rulings beneficial to Ginni. Justice Thomas was the sole vote dissenting in a ruling which said Trump could not withhold certain documents from the January 6th Committee – a committee that had implicated Thomas’ wife. Moreover, Thomas has refused to recuse himself from cases in which Ginni’s political consulting firm has submitted amicus briefs – friend-of-the-court briefs meant to persuade the court to vote in a specific manner. Thomas’ actions are without precedent, clearly political, and may be impeachable offenses.
Per the Constitution, judges must exhibit “good behavior” in order to “hold their offices.” This standard is vague and has rarely been used to impeach federal judges, much less a Supreme Court justice. But by no means can the actions of Clarence Thomas constitute good behavior. Republicans have weaponized the Supreme Court – pushing through Justice Amy Coney Barrett just days before a presidential election, ignoring claims of sexual assault against Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, and denying former Judge Merrick Garland a hearing. Enough is enough: Democrats must not tolerate the unconstitutional behavior of Clarence Thomas and must move to impeach him.