Mar 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Progressives raise specter of Thomas impeachment

Rep. Mondaire Jones is seen looking on as his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks outside the Capitol.
Rep. Mondaire Jones (second from left) looks on as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks last August. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

House progressives who often get out front of the Democratic Party are floating the prospect of an eventual effort to impeach Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Why it matters: Several House and Senate Democrats have called on Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6 and 2020 election-related cases because of the activism of his wife, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, but this is the first time impeachment has been floated.

  • At issue are freshly reported text messages between Ginni Thomas and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the run-up to Jan. 6. Thomas urged Trump's team to keep fighting to overturn the election.
  • Thomas, who's said she was at the "Stop the Steal" rally preceding the Capitol insurrection but left before the speeches ended, told Meadows on Jan. 10 she was "disgusted" by then-Vice President Mike Pence's decision not to halt certification of the election.

What they're saying: “I think what we know, if investigated further, could absolutely be grounds for potential impeachment. I absolutely do believe that," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told Axios on Monday evening.

  • Ocasio-Cortez called for a probe into Justice Thomas' decision not to recuse himself and his "rationale behind being the sole dissent" in a ruling rejecting former President Trump's efforts to shield his documents from the Jan. 6 committee.
  • “All options have to be on the table," said Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), vice chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee overseeing federal courts.
  • "There is a robust, distinct role for the Judiciary Committee to do its own investigation," Jones told Axios. "My intention is for the Judiciary Committee, or at least the subcommittee on courts, to do precisely that.”

Driving the news: The Jan. 6 select committee is considering asking Ginni Thomas to testify voluntarily about her communications with Meadows.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel's vice chair, told Axios the committee members planned to meet after their regular panel session Monday night to discuss the possibility.

The other side: Ginni Thomas told the Washington Free Beacon earlier this month she and her husband share "many of the same ideals" but don't discuss work.

  • "We have our own separate careers, and our own ideas and opinions, too. Clarence doesn't discuss his work with me, and I don't involve him in my work."

Reality check: Only one Supreme Court justice has ever been successfully impeached by the House — and it was more than two centuries ago.

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