If it’s the end of winter, it must be time to report on the Supreme Court of the United States, its upcoming decisions and in particular its most senior judge, Clarence Thomas.
Thomas is also the only black judge, although that may change as President Joe Biden is set to elect the first black woman to the high court.
Two investigative articles have recently been published about Ginni Thomas, the Supreme Court Justice’s second wife, and how her political activities would compromise her famous husband. One was this New Yorker piece and the other is as long New York Times Review room. I’ll critique the latter in a moment, but I want to extract a paragraph from the New Yorker room:
Ginni Thomas has complained that she and her husband have received more criticism than two well-known liberal jurists with politically active spouses: Marjorie O. Rendell continued to serve on the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals while her husband at at the time, Ed Rendell served as state governor; California Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt refused to recuse himself from cases in which the American Civil Liberties Union was involved, even though his wife, Ramona Ripston, ran a branch of the group in Southern California.
She may be right. When I read the adulation that the Times Grants people like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who has made no secret of her political leanings) or Hillary Clinton (who wrote the book on women activists), Ginni Thomas may be justified in complaining.
That’s not to say she doesn’t have her problems, even with her Republican friends, and I don’t object to reporting Ginni Thomas’ activities about town. Fair is fair, but I just don’t see the same contempt and distrust of left-leaning spouses. Whenever the latter is politically active, it is commendable. But if it’s someone from the cultural right, well, they’re peacemakers.
I am not an expert on anything concerning the Supreme Court of the United States; I’ve covered two or three in-person hearings over the years and that’s it. I will therefore stick to the religious content of the article. Here are two paragraphs that appear in the middle of the piece:
The accounts of the Thomases’ meetings and conversations with the White House are based on interviews with nine former Trump aides and advisers, most of whom requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about how the Thomas court created an opening for his wife. (One said he didn’t want “the Ginni prayer warriors coming after me.”) Several said they were never clear as to whether she was there as a activist or paid consultant. They recounted how she aggressively pushed far-right candidates for various positions in the administration and positioned herself as the voice of Trump’s grassroots base. “Here’s what people think,” she said, according to one of the aides. “We have to listen to people.”
Shortly after the lunch meeting with her husband, she had her own meeting with the President, at his request, arriving in the Roosevelt Room on January 25, 2019, with a delegation that included members of Groundswell. “It was the craziest meeting I’ve ever been to,” said a Trump aide who attended. “She started by leading the prayer.” When others started talking, the aide remembers talking about the “transsexual agenda” and parents “cutting off their children’s breasts”. He said the president “tried to contain it – it was hard to hear” as throughout the meeting attendees were praying audibly.
Stranger than weird. “Prayer warriors? It sounds like an evangelical/charismatic thing and Ginni Thomas has a history with the charismatic wing of the Episcopal Church.
Who were these people? Mother Jones described Groundswell in 2013 as a conservative political group, not a Pentecostal prayer meeting.
I had to research other media before I found out about the religious origins of the Thomases, as it was not detailed in the Times story.
This 1991 Washington Post The couple’s story focuses on their involvement with a self-help group known as Lifespring and have spent a lot of ink on their interracial marriage, including quotes that criticize Thomas for choosing a white second wife. (Thomas’ first wife, Kathy Ambush, was black.)
The story quoted her pastor, Reverend Rodney Wilmoth of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Omaha, who mentioned that Ginni Thomas took a homeless man to lunch. You don’t see that side of her at all in the Times story. But there’s obviously a very godly woman in there somewhere.
the To post The feature also said the couple attended Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, despite being raised Catholic. Truro, by the way, is now the Anglican Church of Truro and Ginni Thomas converted to Catholicism in 2002.
Where do they go to church now? It would have been a nice detail in this Times story, especially since faith obviously plays a big role in his life. Religion News Service did an article on Judge Thomas’ faith, so the information was there.
Instead, we’re told Ginni Thomas is radical on the right — a complaint that’s been around for years — and that her views influence his to such an extent that he should recuse himself right and left of cases that might involve his activism. Given that Ginni Thomas’ fingerprints are all over conservative Washington, DC life, that could be a lot of the case.
Why are Justice Thomas’ conservative views so dangerous when the late Justice Ruth Ginsberg’s history with the American Civil Liberties Union and advocacy for abortion rights was OK? I haven’t seen any Times‘ profiles trashing his views. Neither the identity politics of Judge Sonia Sotomayor
It’s not the first time that Times complained about Ginni Thomas, Slate Noted In this piece from 2010. He added:
the New York Times reports that there are new financial and ethical issues raised by Ginni Thomas’ outsized activism, and in my view, they are overridden by her right to be her own person and champion her own causes. If the alternative is to be locked in a room somewhere or to cry helplessly to your priest, as Marjorie Brennan did, it’s a much better world when a judge’s wife can say what she think and shake off the shackles of America while doing so.
So the Justice-Thomas-is-desperately-compromised-because-of-his-wife angle has been done more than once.
I know his wife doesn’t like talking to the media, but as someone who has covered religion in the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia for over 14 years, I know there are many information — online and by interviewing logical sources — about which prayer groups Ginni Thomas attends. What prompted her to convert to Catholicism 20 years ago?
So many questions. So few answers. Perhaps the angle of religion is not important for the writers of the Times. But perhaps an examination of Ginni Thomas’s faith and theology will tell us who she really is.
FIRST IMAGE : Family photo of Thomas shared on Facebook.