Democrats Target Clarence Thomas in Push for Supreme Court Recusal Standards

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivers a keynote speech during a dedication of Geo
John Amis/AP Photo

House Democrats appeared to take aim at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Wednesday as they held a hearing to push for recusal and impeachment standards for justices.

Members of the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, chaired by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), heard testimony from legal experts in a hearing dubbed “Building Confidence in the Supreme Court Through Ethics and Recusal Reforms.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) questions witnesses during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The hearing comes as leftists have been attempting to use Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, as a conduit to attack the Court’s most conservative justice.

(L-R) Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Clarence Thomas has now served on the Supreme Court for 30 years. He was nominated by former President George H. W. Bush in 1991 and is the second African-American to serve on the high court, following Justice Thurgood Marshall. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife, conservative activist Virginia Thomas, while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Certain members of the High Court are going to try to keep getting away with more and more until they have gotten away with our whole republic,” Johnson claimed during his opening statement. “And I am alarmed, for example, about unanswered questions about Justice Thomas’s failure to recuse from a decision that we now know might have implicated the actions of his wife and her apparent efforts to overturn the 2020 election.”

“This problem is much bigger than Clarence Thomas, however, but his is a case in point for why enacting enforceable ethics rules is long past due,” he continued.

As Breitbart News reported, Democrats across the board appear to be taking part in a concerted effort to discredit Justice Thomas. Indeed, the “House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol” — led by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) — is similarly trying to attack Justice Thomas through his wife.

Thompson in the past has called Justice Thomas an “Uncle Tom” — a racist trope, derived from the Harriet Beecher Stowe novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, used by the left to describe black conservatives as zealously subservient and overeager to win the approval of white people.

“It’s almost to the point saying this man doesn’t like black people, he doesn’t like being black,” Thompson said in addition.

Copies of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and John Andrew Jackson’s “The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina” are seen in this Aug. 29, 2013, photo taken at the Charleston County Library in Charleston, S.C. A professor of American literature at Clemson University, Susanna Ashton, says her research indicates Stowe harbored Jackson, then a fugitive slave, in her Maine home just before she started writing her novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Ashton says Jackson shared his painful experiences of slavery, prompting Stowe to write the novel. (Bruce Smith/AP)

But the Democrats’ premise for drawing up such standards did not go unchallenged at the hearing.

During a somewhat heated portion of testimony, one witness, Mark Paoletta — a Partner at Schaerr Jaffe LLP — pointed out Thompson’s use of the racist trope as evidence that those on the far left hate Justice Thomas for being a black conservative.

Appearing to set up the premise that Democrats are not simply trying to attack Justice Thomas, committee member Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) addresses Paoletta, quoting him and saying, “You’ve echoed a similar sentiment, I think the quote is ‘Many on the left hate Justice Thomas because he is a black conservative who has never bowed to those who demand that he must think a certain way because of the color of his skin.'”

After Jeffries asked what evidence Paoletta had to support his “incendiary charge,” Paoletta pointed out that Thompson called Justice Thomas an “Uncle Tom because of his views on voter ID and affirmative action, when in fact more black Americans support voter ID, and with respect to affirmative action in college education, 62 percent are opposed to it.”

“So that,” he continued, “is the most vile, disgusting thing you can say.”

Cutting off Paoletta, Jeffries appeared to defend Thompson by setting up two red herrings, saying “there are a lot of vile, disgusting things that can be said. … The notion that that is, when some members on this side of the aisle and others have been called the N-word throughout different points of our life belies the point that you have a particular bias.”

“And if Chairman Bennie Thompson has an observation to make, he’s entitled to free speech,” he continued. “You apparently believe that Ginni Thomas, regardless of how many conflicts she has, is entitled to her own political opinions as well.”

When Paoletta asked Jeffries if he could give him another example of Democrat hatred for Justice Thomas, the New York Democrat simply replied, “No.”


Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill December 11, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Jose Luis Magana-Pool/Getty Images)

Paoletta’s opening statement set up a defense of the nation’s High Court while exposing what he believes to be the Democrats’ true motives.

“Unfortunately, the title [of the hearing] does not reflect what this hearing is really about. If confidence in the Court is lacking, it is not due to issues of ethics or recusals,” he said. “Rather, confidence in the Court is undermined by the coordinated campaign by some Democrats and their allies in the corporate media to smear conservative Justices with the goal of delegitimizing the Court.”

Pointing out that the American left is fearful that a new “originalist majority” might reverse precedent that cannot withstand “rigorous constitutional scrutiny,” Paoletta contended that “Democrats and the media are trying to threaten, intimidate, destroy, and remove any Justice who may constitute this conservative working majority.”

“Justice Thomas has had no reason to recuse himself from any case because of his wife’s opinions or activities. The recusal standard that the left is applying to Justice Thomas has no grounding in the law or in precedent,” he added. “Rather, it is an entirely outcome-driven effort to change the results of cases that may come before the Supreme Court and to delegitimize past cases decided by the members of the Court with whom the current critics disagree.”

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.


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