Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden harshly criticizes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Oregon’s senior Democratic senator said Thomas should recuse himself from cases involved the Jan. 6 insurrection and any involving the 2024 presidential election if Trump is involved

By: - March 25, 2022 11:57 am

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, joined Oregon’s other senator, Jeff Merkley, and other Democrats, calling for federal action to protect abortion rights. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Oregon’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, lashed out at U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday, insinuating that he is “corrupt.”

“In light of new reporting from numerous outlets, Justice Thomas’ conduct on the Supreme Court looks increasingly corrupt,” Wyden said in a statement. He called on Thomas, one of the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court, to recuse himself from any cases related to the Jan. 6 investigation of the insurrection against the U.S. Capitol. He also said Thomas should not be involved in any cases related to the 2024 election if former President Donald Trump runs again.

“Extraordinary conflicts of interest on the nation’s highest court regarding domestic terrorists attacking democracy and people scheming to overturn an election demand a clear response from anybody who’s taken an oath to uphold the rule of law,” Wyden said in a statement to the Capital Chronicle.

This is the first time Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has criticized a Supreme Court justice, Wyden spokesman Hank Stern told the Capital Chronicle. Stern said it followed several news reports about Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. 

On Thursday the Washington Post revealed that Ginni Thomas had repeatedly pressed Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in text messages to overturn the 2020 election results at a time when Trump and his allies said they would try to get the Supreme Court to negate the election results.

According to the news report, on Nov. 10, after media organizations said Joe Biden would win the presidency, Ginni Thomas wrote to Meadows: “‘Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.’”

Ginni Thomas attended a Trump rally near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, shortly before ralliers breached the U.S. Capitol . During the rally, Trump urged the crowd to march to Congress and pressure lawmakers not to confirm Biden’s win. News reports have said the House select committee investigating the insurrection has evidence that Trump and some of his associates may have engaged in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.

There have been stories for months questioning Thomas’ conservative activism and her influence on her husband. 

“Judges are obligated to recuse themselves when their participation in a case would create even the appearance of a conflict of interest. A person with an ounce of common sense could see that bar is met here,” Wyden said in a statement. 

Emily Flitter, a New York Times reporter, said in a tweet on Friday that Thomas has recused himself before. “When his son worked for Wachovia, he stepped back from a slew of bank-regulatory cases that reached the Court. NOT doing it now looks like breaking precedent,” Flitter said in the tweet.

Thomas was the lone dissenter in January when the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to withhold documents from the investigating panel.

“Justice Thomas participated in cases related to Donald Trump’s efforts to rig and then overturn the 2020 election, while his wife was pushing to do the same,” Wyden said. 

Clarence Thomas was released Friday morning from a week-long hospital stay for  an infection and did not respond to reporters’ requests seeking comment on this latest story about his wife.

 

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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.

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