Judges are expected to be fair and impartial and this is even more crucial when you is with the top judiciary in the world. However, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is often placed in the spotlight due to his perceived bias, which is usually linked with the political activism of his partner, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas.
The week before, The Washington Post obtained 29 texts exchanged by Ginni Thomas and the former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows following the 2020 election. The texts, sent during November of 2020, show the fact that Ginni Thomas backed the efforts of President Trump to reverse the results of the election. They also reveal the ways she made use of her connections inside Trump’s inner circle to push his plan to reverse the results of the election:
“Help This great president remain strong, Mark !!!” She wrote. “You are the chief along with Biden, who stands for American’s Constitutional governance on the brink of. Most people know Biden as well as the Left has been attempting the most significant theft in our history.”
Texts Pile up to Bad Publicity for the Supreme Court
While the text is not political, it does reveal a disturbingly personal relationship between two individuals who are connected with what is supposed to be distinct sections of the government, triggering issues of separation of power. This all comes during a time of there is a partisanship issue on the Supreme Court is already a issue.
Recent years have seen a rise in perceived the partisanship of some politicians is a reason for calls for the creation of new ethics guidelines for the SCOTUS. Ginni Thomas is increasingly subject to spotlight since the contesting 2020 presidential election. Just before the January 6th, 2021 protest turned into an attack her supporters, she was seen cheering on Trump supporters and later made a post on Facebook that became viral “love maga folks.” !!!!” The spotlighting has affected the reputation of the Court; in September of 2021, a Gallup survey found that Supreme Court’s approval score is at an all-time low. In addition, in the month of the month of January, a story that appeared the pages of The New Yorker has prompted discussions regarding Ginni Thomas’s connections to organizations that are directly involved in case through the Court.
With all of this, can we expect to see Justice Thomas recuse himself from any of the election cases taken up by SCOTUS and SCOTUS that are working in the court? Unfortunately, it’s going to be the responsibility of Justice Thomas himself to answer the issue.
There is no ethical oversight for the Supreme Court
The rules are that govern the majority of the judges who are federal (and states also have specific codes that are based off of ABA rules). This Code of Conduct for Federal Judges was drafted and updated in the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the policy-making body within the Federal Court System. The Judicial Conference’s members are principal judges from each circuit court of the federal court system, in addition to other judges from the federal court system, and it is headed by Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. The code is applicable to “United Circuit judges in the United States district judges Court of International Trade judges, Court of Federal Claims judges, bankruptcy judges as well as magistrate judges.” The code, however, isn’t applicable to SCOTUS.
The Federal legislature has intervened to regulate the ethics of judges. Congress adopted the Judicial Misconduct Statute governing federal judges (but it is not the SCOTUS justices). This law permits anyone to make a complaint claiming that a judge engaged in “conduct which is harmful to the efficiency and speedy administration of court’s business.”
Congress also passed the Judicial Disqualification Act that requires federal justices and judges to withdraw themselves “in any case in which their impartiality could legitimately be in doubt.” They are also required to disqualify themselves in the event of:
- They may have a bias or knowledge about the facts that are disputed in a situation;
- A previous career as a lawyer enables them to connect with judges, lawyers or a party to the matter;
- They may have an association with the investigation based on previous public work or
- Their family members or they know that they hold a financial stake in the matter.
In contrast to federal judges The Supreme Court does not have established ethical guidelines. In the moment of swearing in, Supreme Court justices promise to “administer justice with no regard towards persons” as well as “faithfully and without bias complete all the obligations” according to the Constitution. The Court may make its own rules that supplement the swearing-in ceremony, however so it hasn’t done this yet.
Disretionary Recusals are Hit or Miss
While they’re not required to act in this manner by law, Supreme Court justices have an inclination to remove their own cases when there’s an opportunity for bias.
The now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor often was a spokesman for her husband when his company was involved in an dispute in the Supreme Court. Additionally, Justice Stephen Breyer removed himself whenever there was a possibility that one party involved in the case was an organization where his wife served as a board member.
Justice Thomas himself famously chose to withdraw himself from the landmark 1995 Equal Protection case of United States v. Virginia in which the court banned admissions based on sex. This case declared unlawful an old policy that admitted only males into Virginia Military Institute. Virginia Military Institute; Justice Thomas’s son was studying that time.
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Sometimes, judges decide to stay on the case. The famous constitutionalist Erwin Chemerinsky argued that Justice Breyer’s participation in the development of federal guidelines for sentencing could have barred Breyer from ruling about their constitutionality as in United States v. Booker. The justice did not simply choose to take part in the case however he also wrote a dissenting opinion in which he did not agree with the Court’s decision of the two cases, Blakely v. Washingtonand Blakely and Blakely. Washington.
“If there’s one group in the profession, or even in our society where we’d like to be able to demonstrate perfect ethics…it’s Judges,” Chemerinsky said. “That’s very important to the Justices of the Supreme Court. They are among the most prominent judges that we have in this nation. They serve as the template of all judges.”
With the media scrutinization on the Court and the tense nature of the 2020 presidential election (still) is so, it’s probably that everyone’s interest is to allow Justice Thomas to bow out from any lawsuits related to elections that come to the Court. It’s ultimately his choice.
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Sn8256702173NS Are Justice Clarence Thomas likely to withdraw himself from the cases of election which are before the Supreme Court?