Cory Booker Says SCOTUS Needs to “Use This Thomas Affair” to Change Its Ethics Rules

“Clearly” Justice Thomas “should have recused himself” from election cases.

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Reactions to a series of text messages from GOP activist and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas to former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election are still pouring from both sides of the aisle. Today, Sen. Cory Booker (D.-N.J.) weighed in and called for a change to the highest court’s ethics rules.

Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday Booker said that he has had “a lot of frustrations” with the US Supreme Court as a whole because “they haven’t taken measures to police themselves.” 

“They need to use this Thomas affair as an opportunity to change their ethics rules,” Booker said. 

To recap the reasons for the scrutiny on Ginni Thomas, I’ll refer to my colleague Noah Kim’s story about how she had repeatedly urged Trump’s top aide to overturn the election by any means necessary. This in itself would not be a problem, except for the fact that as a Supreme Court justice, her husband ruled on cases directly related to that effort.

Here are some sample texts that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was sending to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in the aftermath of the 2020 election:

  • On November 5, 2020, she cited a Sandy Hook-denying right-wing commentator and referenced QAnon conspiracy theories that Donald Trump had watermarked ballots to track voter fraud: “Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states.” 
  • That same day, she quoted language circulating on pro-Trump sites: “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.” She added: “I hope this is true.” 
  • On November 10, 2020, she wrote: “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.”

Allow me to state the obvious: This is fucking insane. And not just Fox News insane, but 8Chan-invoking, conspiracy theory-mongering, InfoWars-repeating, QAnon-spouting bonkers. 

Since The Washington Post and CBS News reported on the messages, many lawmakers have called for Thomas to recuse himself from upcoming cases around the Jan. 6 insurrection and any possible election cases should Trump run again. But high-ranking Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have come out in defense of Thomas. Florida Sen. Rick Scott is the latest Republican to say that “Clarence Thomas, in my opinion, will always do the right thing.” Still, Scott told “Fox News Sunday” that he would support legislation to change the Supreme Court’s code of ethics to align with the ethics federal judges are asked to follow. 

Beyond an overhaul of the Supreme Court ethics guidelines, Booker also called for “a thorough investigation to better understand exactly what has happened.”

WE'LL BE BLUNT:

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate