Judicial experts weigh in on the controversy surrounding Justice Thomas and his wife

Judicial experts weigh in on the controversy surrounding Justice Thomas and his wife
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States
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Judicial ethics experts are weighing in to offer their assessments of the controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and his wife, Ginni Thomas, according to NPR.

Over the last several days, a multitude of reports has surfaced regarding Ginni Thomas' text message conversations with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging him to take action to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In wake of the damning reports, Justice Thomas has been asked to recuse himself and others are calling for him to step down. Now the looming question centers on what really needs to be done. Is it necessary for Thomas to recuse himself?

Most experts agree it certainly is.

Judicial experts believe the evidence against his wife is quite incriminating. "The subpoena of documents when his wife's own texts are among the pile of documents responsive to the subpoena — that's a slam dunk," said Richard Painter, who previously worked as White House ethics counsel for the George W. Bush administration, adding, "He had to recuse. He didn't. I'd want to know why,"

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers, who also authored text on judicial ethics also agreed that Thomas should have recused himself. "It was his obligation as a justice under the recusal statute to ensure that nothing she had been doing warranted his recusal," he says, adding that Justice Thomas "could not maintain a kind of false ignorance, closing his eyes and ears."

Charles Geyh, an Indiana University, Bloomington legal ethics professor, also expressed similar sentiments as he highlighted how this particular situation differs from other conflicts of interest.

"I think this is different," said Geyh, per NPR, "'There's a difference between having a spouse who has an active interest' in seeing the law changed and 'someone who is actually part of the story' of the case, he explained. 'I don't know how someone could be impartial when their spouse is part of the record that may be before the judge.'"

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