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Associate U.S. 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, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ginni Thomas's Texts: A 'Coup in Search of a Legal Theory' and Judicial Malfeasance

The 29 publicly available text exchanges between Ginni Thomas and then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that begin on November 5, 2020, are stunning.

Steven Harper

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written that he and his wife, Virginia ("Ginni"), are "one being—an amalgam." Repeatedly, he has called her his "best friend." Immediately after President Donald Trump lost the November 2020 election, Ginni Thomas joined the effort to overturn it. Since then, her husband has been hearing cases arising from the January 6 insurrection.

The Gap

The 29 publicly available text exchanges between Ginni Thomas and then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that begin on November 5, 2020, are stunning, but what's missing may be more important: a 46-day gap—no texts between November 24, 2020, and January 10, 2021.

What happened during that period?

According to U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, the answer is that Trump and law professor John Eastman "launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history." The judge called it "a coup in search of a legal theory," which "spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation's government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process."

The court found it more likely than not that Trump and Eastman had committed serious crimes against the United States: "If Dr. Eastman and President Trump's plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution."

John Eastman is a former law clerk for Justice Thomas and a close friend of the Thomas family.

Texts We've Seen (So Far)

Between November 5, 2020, and January 10, 2021, Ginni Thomas sent Meadows 21 texts that are now publicly available. Meadows sent her eight. Here are a few highlights:

November 6: "Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back [sic]."

November 10: "Help This Greatest 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."

November 13: "Sidney Powell & improved coordination now will help the cavalry come and Fraud exposed and America saved." (Sidney Powell was Mike Flynn's attorney and a conspiracy theorist pursuing Trump's bogus voter fraud claims throughout the country. None succeeded.)

November 19: "Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down… You guys fold, the evil just moves fast down underneath you all." (After the election, the far right used "Release the Kraken" as a catchphrase. It referred to the exposure of a massive voter fraud conspiracy that would have the force of a "Kraken"—a mythical giant sea monster.)

November 24: "If you all cave to the elites, you have to know that many of your 73 million feel like what Glenn [Beck] is expressing…"

When Meadows asked what Thomas meant, she answered, "I can't see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences... the whole coup and now this... we just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can't continue the GOP charade."

Describing the effort to overturn the election, Meadows invoked God: "This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it."

Thomas responded, "Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!"

Then comes the gap.

Nefarious Deeds During the Gap

Ginni Thomas is a board member of CNP Action—an offshoot of a secretive but influential conservative group called the Council for National Policy. After the election, it urged members to pressure Republican lawmakers in swing states to challenge the results and appoint alternate slates of electors: "Demand that they not abandon their Constitutional responsibilities during a time such as this."

In a memo shortly after Christmas, John Eastman outlined a planned coup relying on those alternate slates of phony electors. Eastman and Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to execute it on January 6, when Congress met in joint session to confirm Joseph Biden's victory. It's no surprise that Ginni Thomas attended Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally, which sought to intensify that pressure.

Nor is it a surprise that the House committee investigating the January 6 attack now wants to interview her. Recently, Thomas claimed that she "played no role with those who were planning and leading the Jan. 6 events." But 10 days later, that denial became dubious with the disclosure of her text exchanges with Meadows, who was deeply involved in planning the protests.

Likewise, immediately after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the CNP circulated a memo from one of its members, outlining a public relations strategy for reframing the violent insurrection: "Drive the narrative that it was mostly peaceful protests… Amplify the concerns of the protesters and give them legitimacy."

Which takes us to the only available post-gap text from Ginni Thomas to Mark Meadows. She excoriated Pence, who foiled the January 6 coup:

January 10, 2021: "We are living through what feels like the end of America," she wrote. "Most of us are disgusted with the VP and are in listening mode to see where to fight with our teams. Those who attacked the Capitol are not representative of our great teams of patriots for DJT!! Amazing times. The end of Liberty."

Justice Thomas's Rulings on the Failed Coup

On January 19, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump's request to block the release of White House records to the House committee investigating the insurrection. Only one justice dissented: Clarence Thomas. It wasn't the first time that he sided with Trump allies in a case involving the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

All federal judges, including U.S. Supreme Court justices, are subject to federal law requiring disqualification "in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The requirement specifically includes cases in which a spouse has an "interest" in the outcome.

But for Supreme Court justices, there's no enforcement mechanism. It's up to the individual discretion of the justice in question. Also unlike all other judges, Supreme Court justices have no binding code of professional ethics.

Cases relating to Trump's failed coup will continue making their way to the nation's highest court. If Justice Thomas greets them as he has—with callous disregard for his obligation to recuse himself—remember that his "best friend" will be lurking nearby.

And public confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court will take another hit.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Steven Harper

Steven J. Harper is an attorney, adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School, and author of several books, including Crossing Hoffa — A Teamster’s Story and The Lawyer Bubble — A Profession in Crisis. He has been a regular columnist for Moyers on Democracy, Dan Rather’s News & Guts, and The American Lawyer.

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