MSNBC & New Yorker Smear Ginni Thomas as ‘Threat’ to SCOTUS

News & Politics

In the latest nasty, partisan media effort to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, on Friday, MSNBC welcomed on The New Yorker’s left-wing hack Jane Mayer to trash conservative leader Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, as a “threat to the Supreme Court.” Mayer used her vile hit piece against Ginni Thomas to demand that Justice Thomas recuse himself from numerous cases before the high court.

“Now, a new New Yorker article is raising questions about Thomas’s wife’s conservative activism….Joining me now is Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker and author of the new article, ‘Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?,’ fill-in anchor Garrett Haake announced near the end of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports early Friday afternoon.

He then invited Mayer to attack Ginni Thomas over her political advocacy: “Your story lays out Ginni Thomas’s long history of conservative activism. Talk about what you found.” Mayer launched a barrage against the wife of Justice Thomas:

Well, I mean, she has been an issue for quite some time because she’s such a vocal activist in politics….But what I was looking at was her ties to issues directly in front of the Court. And there are so many of them, it is astonishing, and worrisome. So that I interviewed ethics experts on the law, people like Stephen Gillers, who really is probably the foremost expert on judicial ethics, who said that she is, in his words, “behaving horribly.” And he fears that it’s undermining the administration of justice and the rule of law. And the image of the Supreme Court, which right now is handling some of the most explosive issues in front of the country, and also has a problem with public support at this point. It’s dwindled to it lowest rate. And this is worrisome at this point.

What Mayer failed to mention was that the “ethics expert” she cited, Stephen Gillers, is also a Democratic Party donor, absurdly advocated in 2004 that then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kery should name Bill Clinton as his running mate, and wrote for the left-wing publication The Nation.

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Mayer concluded of the Thomas’s: “So, I mean, it’s got a bad odor to it. And I think all of us can agree, we really want the Court to be seen as above that kind of thing. It needs to be seen as above that thing. So that we can all respect it.”  

Haake at least mildly pushed back by wondering: “But just to play devil’s advocate here a little bit, I mean, is it fair to tell a spouse who’s been a conservative activist for most of her life that now she can’t pursue that career?” Mayer sneered:

You know, it’s interesting, because there are people who might say, “Well, isn’t this an anti-feminist position?” But, of course, she can pursue her politics if she wants. Then he needs to recuse from cases that she’s directly involved in. That’s the standard for any lower court….But sure, I mean, Clarence Thomas can step aside and let his wife be a political activist and directly connected to January 6th uprisings, as she was.

Of course that gave away Mayer’s true partisan intent, a lame attempt to sideline one of the members of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ahead of a series of potentially landmark cases.

This nasty attack on Justice Thomas and his wife was brought to viewers by CarShield and One A Day vitamins. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a full transcript of the January 21 segment:

12:49 PM ET

GARRETT HAAKE: On January 19th, the Supreme Court rejected Donald Trump’s request to intervene and stop the January 6th Committee from accessing his records. Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone justice to dissent.

Now, a new New Yorker article is raising questions about Thomas’s wife’s conservative activism. One example, Ginni Thomas and other prominent conservatives signed a letter to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanding that the House Republican Conference remove Congresswoman Cheney and Congressman Kinzinger, due to, quote, “Their egregious actions as part of the House of Representatives’ January 6th Select Committee.” Writing that, “The actions of Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger on behalf of House Democrats have given supposedly bipartisan justification to an overtly partisan political persecution that brings disrespect to our country’s rule of law, legal harassment to private citizens who have done nothing wrong, and which demeans the standing of the House.”

Joining me now is Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker and author of the new article, “Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?” So, Jane, thank you for being with us. I want to say off the top that Clarence and Ginni Thomas declined to be interviewed for your article and NBC has also reached out to Justice Thomas and his wife’s political lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting, we have not heard back. Your story lays out Ginni Thomas’s long history of conservative activism. Talk about what you found.

JANE MAYER: Well, I mean, she has been an issue for quite some time because she’s such a vocal activist in politics. And the Court is supposed to be seen as kind of above politics. In fact, her husband has made a point to saying so.

But what I was looking at was her ties to issues directly in front of the Court. And there are so many of them, it is astonishing, and worrisome. So that I interviewed ethics experts on the law, people like Stephen Gillers, who really is probably the foremost expert on judicial ethics, who said that she is, in his words, “behaving horribly.” And he fears that it’s undermining the administration of justice and the rule of law. And the image of the Supreme Court, which right now is handling some of the most explosive issues in front of the country, and also has a problem with public support at this point. It’s dwindled to it lowest rate. And this is worrisome at this point.

And what happens is you take a close look, which is what I was doing, at where Ginni Thomas is involved. She has aligned herself in leadership roles with groups that have issues directly in front of the Court. They’ve filed amicus briefs, in some cases they have asked to have their cases heard by the court. In one case, she’s actually paid – been a paid consultant, her firm has, to somebody who had business in front of the Court. Filed an amicus brief in front of the Court that her husband was hearing while she was getting paid several hundred thousand dollars over two years.

So, I mean, it’s got a bad odor to it. And I think all of us can agree, we really want the Court to be seen as above that kind of thing. It needs to be seen as above that thing. So that we can all respect it.  

HAAKE: One of the things that jumped out to me from the piece, this reporting on this private list serve called Thomas Clerk World, which includes the Justice’s former law clerks, and on which Ginni Thomas is apparently pretty active. What can you tell us about that?

MAYER: It’s true. I mean, and so the – Justice Thomas is the senior justice at this point on the Court, he’s been on it for 30 years, so he has a lot of former clerks. Something like a network of 200 of them or so. And I spoke with an expert on the subject of Court clerks who said that she is the only wife of a justice he’s ever heard of who agitates for political points on this private list serve with all of these former clerks. Many of whom now are in very prominent positions, including on benches in other courts around the country. It’s kind of like a sub rosa political organization at this point.

HAAKE: You note in your article that after the current Chief Justice John Roberts was nominated to be a justice, his wife retired from practicing law. There’s a pretty long history of justice spouses kind of stepping back from the legal world. But just to play devil’s advocate here a little bit, I mean, is it fair to tell a spouse who’s been a conservative activist for most of her life that now she can’t pursue that career?

MAYER: You know, it’s interesting, because there are people who might say, “Well, isn’t this an anti-feminist position?” But, of course, she can pursue her politics if she wants. Then he needs to recuse from cases that she’s directly involved in. That’s the standard for any lower court. And the problem with the Supreme Court is that it doesn’t really have an ethics code. It holds itself above the code of conduct that applies to all courts that are lower than the Supreme Court. But sure, I mean, Clarence Thomas can step aside and let his wife be a political activist and directly connected to January 6th uprisings, as she was.

HAAKE: Well, to that end, are there any cases coming up where we should be looking out for the kinds of conflicts that you outline in this piece?

MAYER: So many cases. I mean, this is a very, very busy docket this year. And if you look closely and if you read the piece, Ginni Thomas has connections to most of the major issues facing the Court. Whether it’s Affirmative Action, for instance, where she’s on a group that has filed an amicus brief in front of the Court on that issue, against Harvard University’s Affirmative Action policies. You can also take a look at the January 6th litigation, which is surely gonna reach the Court. She has so many connections to the organizers of those events. The gun case. She serves on a board of directors with someone who’s on the board of the National Rifle Association, which is bringing the biggest case on gun rights in many, many years. It’s affiliate in New York. I mean you can go on an on down the list and find that Ginni Thomas is involved with people on all of these major issues.

HAAKE: It’s a really interesting piece, online in the New Yorker, out today. Jane Mayer, thank you for coming on and talking about it with us.

MAYER: Thanks for having me.

HAAKE: You’re welcome.

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