Senate graybeards like Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer want Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from cases involving the 2021 Capitol riot, but that’s not good enough for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The “squad” leader said Tuesday that Justice Thomas needs to step down over his wife Virginia Thomas’s post-election text messages with then-White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows urging him to challenge the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.
“Clarence Thomas should resign,” tweeted the New York Democrat. “If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment.”
Her comment illustrated the emerging divide between the Democratic Party establishment and left-wing upstarts on how Justice Thomas should respond to the leaked texts.
Mr. Schumer told reporters Tuesday that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from related cases, following the lead of Senate Judiciary Committee member Amy Klobuchar, who said Sunday that it was a “a textbook case for removing him, recusing him from these decisions.”
“Ginni Thomas tried to overturn an election. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, must recuse himself from any more cases on the coup attempt,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat. “He must explain why he hasn’t already done so. And the Supreme Court needs a basic, binding Code of Ethics.”
Pushing a harder line are left-wing Democrats like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York, who also tweeted that Justice Thomas “needs to resign,” and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who said he should be impeached.
Yas queen. https://t.co/Vipab4UE3M
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) March 29, 2022
Also calling for Justice Thomas to resign are Democratic Reps. Veronica Escobar of Texas and Hank Johnson of Georgia.
The 29 texts sent between Mrs. Thomas and Mr. Meadows, which were first reported Thursday by CBS News and The Washington Post, include comments from her such as the “majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”
Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, said Sunday that Justice Thomas “will always do the right thing,” while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said they trust the conservative jurist to act impartially.
Former Thomas law clerk Wendy Long said Tuesday that even a jurist’s own political views, never mind those of a spouse, “do not require recusal.”
“All nine Supreme Court Justices have political views,” she said in a Federalist op-ed. “It’s a good guess that each voted for the president who appointed them and for presidents and legislators of their own parties. If holding views about the 2020 election meant a justice couldn’t decide legal issues arising from it, then all nine would have to recuse themselves. It’s even more absurd when the political views at issue are those of a justice’s spouse.”