The troubling role of Clarence Thomas' wife in Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election

Ginni Thomas comes under close scrutiny as critics fear that she is compromising the politics of the Supreme Court

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published February 22, 2022 6:30PM (EST)

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.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

For decades, Ginni Thomas, a top brass conservative activist, has devoted her life to advocating for right-wing causes, aligning herself with donor networks and advocacy groups that have and continue to play a key role in maintaining Republican authority. But Ginni Thomas is no ordinary Republican operative; she is also the wife of Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. And as her political activities extreme, critics fear that, given the recent rash of partisan Supreme Court rulings, she may have concerning sway over her husband's jurisprudence. 

On Tuesday, The New York Times Magazine reported that the couple has "defied" the ethical "norms" of the Supreme Court, particularly when it comes to Ginni Thomas' political projects, whose goals almost always align with her husband's professed ideological leanings. 

"She's an operator; she stays behind the scenes," ex-Trump advisor Steve Bannon told the Times. "Unlike a lot of people who just talk, she gets shit done."

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For one, Ginni Thomas reportedly serves in a prominent role in the Council for National Policy, a shadowy umbrella organization that brings together a number of leaders from groups like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council. According to the Times, Thomas specifically serves on the C.N.P. Action, the 501(c)(4) arm of the organization, which "allows for direct political advocacy."

Following Donald Trump's election loss in November 2020, C.N.P. Action reportedly circulated "action steps" aimed at pressuring state officials in Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania to go along with the former president's campaign to reinstall himself as president.

"There is historical, legal precedent for Congress to count a slate of electors different from that certified by the Governor of the state," the group reportedly wrote in a December memo.

In the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot, fomented by the very election fraud claims C.N.P. Action espoused, the group reportedly sought to "drive the narrative that it was mostly peaceful protests" and "amplify the concerns of the protestors and give them legitimacy," according to documents obtained by the Times. 

RELATED: Ginni Thomas reportedly leading purge of "disloyal" Trump aides

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By February, a coalition of Pennsylvania Republicans brought Trump's election fraud claims to the Supreme Court, arguing that the ballots had been systematically compromised. While their allegations were ultimately shut down by the court, Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, writing that his own colleagues' reasoning was "inexplicable." 

Ginni Thomas has also advocated on several other issues that recently made their way to the Supreme Court. In particular, the Council for National Policy campaigned aggressively against abortion and lockdowns during COVID-19. Incidentally, in January, the Supreme Court in insulated a near-total ban on abortions. And the next month, it prohibited a ban on indoor church services despite the spread of the coronavirus. 

Though much of her work is reserved to the world of advocacy, Ginni Thomas also reportedly meddled in the Trump administration's staffing, a habit that at times irked White House aides. 

"In the White House, she was out of bounds many times," one of Trump's senior aides told the Times. "It was always: 'We need more MAGA people in government. We're trying to get these résumés through, and we're being blocked.' I appreciated her energy, but a lot of these people couldn't pass background checks." 

Another aide, more tersely, called her a "wrecking ball."

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According to the Times, Trump told Ginni Thomas that she was welcome to drop in for visits to the White House. Numerous aides said that "she was also reportedly known to pass "notes" to the president "on her priorities through intermediaries."

In one alleged meeting with the president, held back in 2019, Ginni Thomas brought in members of Groundswell, a conservative group that, according to Mother Jones, is planning "a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation." 

"It was the craziest meeting I've ever been to," a Trump aide told the Times. "She started by leading the prayer." The aide also recalled talk of "the transsexual agenda" and of parents "chopping off their children's breasts."

The following year, the Times noted, Justice Thomas joined his conservative colleagues in a dissent arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Clarence Thomas Elections 2020 Ginni Thomas Gop Republicans Scotus Supreme Court Trump's Big Lie