Wife of Clarence Thomas Organizes Tea Party Group

Virginia Thomas, wife of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, forms tea party group. Virginia Thomas told a recent panel “I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb., who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you.” She specifically went on to say that she was going to work against Obama’s “hard-left agenda.” It is an association that will likely add to a further patina of politics surrounding the Court, which just ruled in favor of conservative groups in the Citizens United case. I will be discussing this story tonight on Countdown.

There is, of course, no limitation on the spouses of justices in terms of political activities. However, historically spouses have avoided such entanglements in deference to the neutral role that their spouses are expected to perform on the Court. The involvement in such a raw political organization is, well, injudicious.

I did not share the outrage of some when Virginia Thomas worked for Heritage Foundation. Working for an conservative legal group is a bit different from working in a political organization committed to fighting the President’s policies. Once again, she is well within her rights to do so, but most spouses have avoided such a high-profile political role. This why it is so rare to ever hear of a controversy involving a justice’s spouse.

Worse yet, her group will be scoring members of Congress and accepting donations from corporations. This could raise recusal issues in future cases for Clarence Thomas, but he is unlikely to see his wife’s involvement as a recusal matter unless her group is directly involved in a case.

Ironically, Thomas said he does not attend the State of the Union because it is to “partisan.” He will not be married to one such partisan whose group will actively seek to oppose the President and democratic members.
For the Thomas story, click here.

118 thoughts on “Wife of Clarence Thomas Organizes Tea Party Group”

  1. AY,

    Do you think the medical community could have had a problem with Dr. K because of this line from the Hippocratic Oath?

    “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”

  2. I want to say I know Jack, but the best I can say is I have met Jack. So Bryon, then why did they rip his license? So that he could not legally assist anyone. Why? The same people that are against Abortion are for Capitol Punishment. The Drug manufactures are against assisted suicide, why? Too much in Profits to be lost.

  3. AY:

    IF a person wants to commit suicide then they should have that right. If a doctor is willing to help then that is their business along with the person who has chosen to die.

    I wouldnt do it and I wouldnt want to hang with Dr. Jack but then I have that right.

  4. Byron,

    Query: If you are so much for Freedom of Association then why did the medical community take Dr. Jack Kevorkian when it was not against the law to assist with legal euthanasia in Michigan? Why did the Legislature change the law to assure a conviction for this when it was not against the law? He was after all a pathologist?

  5. CEJ:

    “You don’t see a big difference between her being “involved” versus forming her own Tea Party group?
    Please reread the Professor’s post and note all the comments.”

    No, what is the difference? Either people are free to associate with whom they wish or they are not. When it comes to individual rights there is no “gray” area.

    (I also understand that my rights extend to the ends of my hands and that they stop shy of your face or so they say metaphorically speaking. )

    If Justice Thomas or any justice for that matter is unable to withstand the influence from a spouse, they should not be a judge. But then what is the difference between the weak minded justices like Kennedy, Sotomayor and Stevens being influenced by Breyer and Ginsburg? Or by being influenced by a New Republic article or a Wall St. Journal article? Justices don’t live in a bubble, they are influenced by the current culture just as you and I are, sometimes without even knowing how we have been influenced.

  6. Johneboy,

    With all due respect, your “two cents” in defense of Lady Liberty and the Tea Party movement, won’t buy you much credibility with me. They chose the name.

    Your defense seems to rest solely on your favorable opinion of the movement. You seem to expect that even without any other evidence, I should be convinced based on your anonymous words alone, and if I might just defer to your greater insights, and follow your advice:

    “stop quibbling over…politics and actually take a look at government and what is transpiring before our collective eyes, I think we would be a lot closer to one of those revolutions that Jefferson said we might need every now and then.”

    Really? Johneyboy, revolutions!
    That seems extreme, but hey that’s just me.

    Sorry, but after 8 years during which my criticism of Bush and the government was considered unpatriotic and potential treasonous by “conservatives” your base appeal to FEAR no longer works with me.

    For all I know, Lady Liberty is Ms. Virginia Thomas, wife of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas; and I stand by my words.

    That Ms. Thomas now feels it imperative to form her own tea party faction, in order to preserve liberty and fight a hard left agenda just rings false to me. IMHO it is a platform for her ego and fund raising and nothing more.

    Quoting NYT writer David Barton: “The Tea Party movement has become a platform for conservative populist discontent and the profound private transformation of people who not long ago were not especially interested in politics and yet now say they are bracing for tyranny.”

    Really? Does this description fit Ms. Virginia Thomas previously of the Heritage Foundation?

    Take no offense, but really “teabagging” is just for nuts!


  7. As a preface to my comment: I have had a big “I” on my voter reg card for over twenty years; I have no allegiance to either of the “major” political parties, nor any great love of the game they play on a regular basis. Nor am I a member of the so-called “tea party” movement. And I am all for a Turley SC nomination.

    That being said, I have to stick up a bit for Lady Liberty in her sticking up for the tea-party. The movement, to my understanding, did start out as a grass-roots political challenge. It has been co-opted by the Republican Party in order to swing this very frustrated voter block towards the red. Most of the folks who attend these rallies are not tea-baggers (which, for those who use the term, is nothing more than an ad hoc attack on your fellow American citizens who have the same 1st amendment right that you do. Parroting what MSNBC and CNN tell you to think is no better than when the ‘other side’ spots off Limbaugh-isims or Fox’s special brand of fair and balanced), but people who are simply fed up with the current system.

    Just about all of the folks I have spoken with who are in this movement don’t think very highly of Palin…or Obama, or Bush for that matter. And it seems that anyone who has been on the idiot box spouting off their rhetoric claiming to be a leader of the tea party is, in fact, a GOP operative (much like the recent media darlings, the coffee party, which was also proclaimed as a new grass roots movement but was actually started up by an Obama campaign staffer).

    Nor would I call the average member of the tea party movement an ‘extremist’. The viewpoints I have heard from most of these folks seems to come closer to centrist (and maybe a tad right).

    In my opinion the public marginalization of the movement as racist, fanatical, and extremist is an intentional act by some of the powers that be. Further, the co-opting of the movement by the current political status quo is part of the same game. After all, if the general public were to stop quibbling over politics like we gnash our teeth about sports and American Idol and actually took a look at government and what is transpiring before our collective eyes, I think we would be a lot closer to one of those revolutions that Jefferson said we might need every now and again. Thinking of France a few hundred years ago, that’s the last thing that those in charge would want.

    Just my two cents…

  8. As a Catholic lesbian, I can assure you I have no interest in perpetuating the legacy of the KKK. The fact that you would even say such a thing is a perfect illustration of why tea partiers are increasingly feeling alienated and angry at the modern liberal establishment. Long live the individual!

  9. rcampbell,

    Thanks for validating everything I stated in my earlier post. I really like the way you avoided the message about the sitting judge playing a political role. 🙂

    Can you tell me what it is about the Tea Party movement that you find to be so offensive? Is the idea of fiscal conservatism and fiscal responsibility the product of lunacy? Are you unaware that these people began to organize due to the 2008 “Bailouts” and the 2009 “Stimulus Package”?

    Your rant above seems to complain that they didn’t voice their outrage soon enough. “Let’s take a gander at the things that the elements which created the “big government” just since 2000.” You acknowledge that government is growing, and as long as you can blame it on GW, you’re OK with complaining about it. Yet, you call them lunatics for doing so now. Irony?

    You said “The Dem’s plan called for $900B in cuts of which 70% or more went to those earning under less than $250K. It also included a $300B fund to be set aside for an economic downturn or national disaster.”

    When was that? 2009? And you want it to pay for something put in place in 2002? That’s the way it looks to me. “That $300B fund the Dems proposed sure would have gone a long way to mitigate the economic impact of the national disaster it was proposed to help with.” (The quote was taken from your comment on the TSA. I must assume the “national disaster” you were referring to was 9/11/2001)

    If I am taking what you provided in the wrong light, I apologize. If you would provide a link or date to the numbers you provide it would help a lot.

  10. Mike Appleton,

    Yep … that’s what I meant 😉 (everything you wrote!)

    What I particularly liked in your posting follows:

    “The job of a Supreme Court justice is, and is intended to be, a lonely one. ”

    (I’d never really thought about it in exactly that light … illuminating!)


  11. Are Ms. Thomas’ actions legal? Yes, of course. Is her choice to embrace the very radical right wing lunatic fringe teabaggers’ movement a surprise? Hardly. Does it reflect badly on Justice Thomas, especially given his extreme right wing judicial viewpoint as seen in virtually all of his opinions and findings for, lo, these many agonizing years? Does it reinforce the view of him as an extremist? Yes and hell yes!!

  12. A song from four aging justices of the Supreme Court:

  13. Let’s be honest here. The objections to activism on the part of Virginia Thomas aren’t about her deciding to play, but what team she decided to play for. One only need read the comments to see the basis for objection.

    Do spouses have influence? We all know they usually do. Our nations long history of men filling most of the seats on our highest court has likely shielded us from Justices having spouses with a political voice. The days of women being seen and not heard are supposed to be behind us. We should expect more spouses to have a public voice. At some point, I expect SCOTUS to be dominated by women. Would we expect their husbands to lose their political voice too? Are individual rights really standing in such shaky ground? Did I say “individual”?

    If we want to be so arrogant and self-righteous that we consider the speech of a spouse to be something other than “free”, I suggest we employ “the couple”. We can then have the Senate confirm “the couple”, and we can then prohibit the political speech of the spouse too. We can then amend the Constitution to include a provision that the “good behavior” of the spouse shall also be required.

    I’m sure most of you are familiar with the American Judicature Society, and their efforts to change how judges/justices are selected. That effort is as political as it can get. Politics is all about influencing the way government operates. In Missouri, our Constitution strictly prohibits judges of the Missouri Supreme Court from engaging in political activity. Yet, a sitting judge on the Missouri Supreme Court is on the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society. Not only that, but he is the American Judicature Society’s liaison to the ABA House of Delegates. Is it possible to serve a more active role? Will any of the lawyers here speak out against this prohibited activity? Would Professor Turley speak out against it?

    You can find the bio of Judge Teitelman on the AJS Board of Directors page.

    If the true basis for objecting to the efforts of Virginia Thomas has anything to do with the impropriety of her political activity, a direct violation of such activity on the part of a sitting judge should have all the readers up in arms. I’m waiting to see the same outrage directed at a Judge of the Missouri Supreme Court.

  14. A Pat Acting,

    Perhaps that is why Justice Thomas often has that big horse-toothed grin on his face. He has found a way to enrich his family and it is all legally permissible, secretive, and sanctioned by recent Supreme Court decisions.

    How sad that we must to be so pessimistic about a once great legal institution.

  15. * MARCH 3, 2009


    Can Congress Regulate All Political Speech?
    The ultimate stakes could not be higher in a Supreme Court case argued today.

    The case has its roots in a complicated tale of political and corporate intrigue between two coal companies, leading eventually to a jury verdict of $50 million in favor of Hugh Caperton, owner of Harman Mining Co., against Massey Coal Co. for fraud and breach of contract. As Massey’s appeal worked its way through the West Virginia court system, Massey CEO Don Blankenship spent $3 million of his personal funds in 2004 on hard-hitting advertisements attacking incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, who was seeking re-election.



  16. I have some observations on the Tea Party movement and on the actions of Justice Thomas’ spouse.

    I cannot know the attitudes and personal beliefs that motivate Lady Liberty. What I do know is this: In 1948 Strom Thurmond and a group of southern Democrats formed the States’ Rights Democratic Party as a reaction to the inclusion of a civil rights plank in the platform at the Democratic convention. I know that “states’ rights” thereafter became the rallying cry of every racist from Orville Faubus to George Corley Wallace. I know that the phrase virtually disappeared from the political vocabulary with the ascendancy of the Republican Party and the success of the so-called southern strategy under Ronald Reagan and the Bush clan (you remember Willie Horton). I know that complaints about big government were seldom heard while deficits soared under Reagan and Bush. I know that the phrases “states’ rights” and “taking back our country” re-emerged hard upon the election of Barack Obama. I know that the Tea Party movement began almost immediately after the last state certified the election results and before the President had even formed his Cabinet. I also know that 2+2=4.

    With respect to the subject matter of this thread, we need to remember that the Supreme Court is not intended to be the legal arm of either the executive or legislative branches. Its authority it ultimately moral, derived from the willingness of the people to submit to its pronouncements as the law of the land binding upon all of us. Although we know that political considerations cannot be divorced from its judgments, we expect the justices to have the maturity and temperament necessary to set aside their personal preferences and political beliefs when ruling on the cases before them. Avoiding the appearance of impropriety and bias requires that the Court’s members refrain from engaging in the political debates of the day. It requires that they not participate in clubs or organizations committed to promoting particular political goals. The job of a Supreme Court justice is, and is intended to be, a lonely one. And fairly or not, if the activities of a justice’s spouse can reasonably be expected to call into question the neutrality of that justice’s opinions, those activities should not be pursued.

  17. Folks,

    Y’all best be populatin’ that Facebook page. I aint no member yet ‘n I aint a’ gonna be furst ’cause I aint nevah bin furst ‘n anythang ‘n life ‘ceptin’ a top grayd ‘n nonstandard n’glish comp ‘n spellin’.

  18. How are American’s supposed to know if big donors to her group aren’t offered preferrential treatment by her husband and the conservative majority in the SCOTUS when the SCOTUS’s recent ruling allows for her to accept unlimited ANONYMOUS donations to her cause?

  19. But, but nal, you are losing out on the greatest opportunity for being a part of the domain of serfdom……

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