Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Washington — A group of House Democrats is calling on Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from the case pending before the Supreme Court involving whether former President Donald Trump is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for alleged crimes committed while in office.

Led by Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, the group of eight Democrats told Thomas in a letter dated Dec. 15 that the activities of his wife, Ginni Thomas, after the 2020 election raise “serious questions” about his ability to remain impartial in cases before the high court that involve the last presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Democrats pointed to the new code of conduct adopted by the Supreme Court last month, which encourages a justice to step aside in a proceeding in which their impartiality may be questioned. Among those instances are when a justice’s spouse has an “interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

The new ethics rules, however, do not include an enforcement mechanism. Recusal decisions are made by each justice, and they are not required to provide an explanation for why they decided not to participate in a case.

“If you want to show the American people that the Supreme Court’s recent code of conduct is worth more than the paper it is written on, you must do the honorable thing and recuse yourself from any decisions in the case of United States v. Trump,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote, referencing the name of the case pending before the Supreme Court.

The other Democrats who signed the letter along with Johnson are Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Gerry Connolly of Virginia, Jasmine Crockett of Texas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Dan Goldman of New York.

Special counsel Jack Smith asked the high court last week to swiftly decide whether Trump is shielded from federal prosecution for allegedly attempting to stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election. The special counsel has requested the justices take up the case before a federal appeals court can weigh in on the matter, and the Supreme Court said last week it would accelerate its consideration of whether to step in.

Trump has until Wednesday to submit a response to Smith’s request.

The former president has been charged with four criminal counts stemming from his alleged attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Trump in October asked a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., who is presiding over his criminal case, to dismiss the charges against him, claiming he has immunity for actions performed within the “outer perimeter” of his official duties. But U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected his request and allowed the prosecution to move forward. The former president appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has fast-tracked its review.

In their letter to Thomas, the Democrats warned that Americans’ trust in the Supreme Court has fallen and blamed the justice for contributing to the public’s damaged perception of the high court. Thomas has come under scrutiny for his ties to a major Republican donor who provided him and Ginni Thomas with luxury travel and accommodations during their 25-year friendship.

The Democrats also highlighted Ginni Thomas’ alleged involvement in Trump’s attempts to remain in office despite his electoral loss. Ginni Thomas corresponded with Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, about efforts to overturn the election results and urged Wisconsin lawmakers to reverse President Biden’s victory.

Ginni Thomas told the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 riot last year that she did not discuss any of the legal challenges involving the 2020 election with her husband and said Thomas was unaware of the text messages she exchanged with Meadows.

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