Senate Democrats think Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse from considering whether former President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution in his 2020 election case, according to The Hill.
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to expedite its consideration of Smith’s request for it to take up the issue, asking Trump’s lawyers to respond by Dec. 20. Democratic senators are already calling on Thomas to recuse over his wife’s political activism during the 2020 election, The Hill reported.
“There’s been enough information raised about Mr. Thomas and his spouse that he ought to think twice about recusal in this case,” Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju on Monday.
Ginni Thomas exchanged text messages with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after the election raising concerns about fraud. Senate Democrats called on Thomas in March 2022 to recuse himself from any future case involving efforts to subvert the 2020 election or Jan. 6.
Durbin told The Hill that the code of ethics adopted by the Supreme Court in November “didn’t address recusal like we did in the bill that we passed.” The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act in July, though it has not been brought to the floor for a vote.
Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal suggested “anyone” on the Court who “with whom [Thomas] has discussed his wife’s involvement” may have “an improper interest” in the case, per The Hill.
“Recusal usually applies when there’s an actual conflict and when there’s an appearance of conflict,” Democratic Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said Tuesday, according to the outlet.
Democrats also called for Thomas to recuse in September from an upcoming case that could rein in the authority of executive agencies, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, after ProPublica published a story on his presence at a 2018 Koch network event. They called on Justice Samuel Alito to recuse from a major tax case after a lawyer on the case interviewed the justice for The Wall Street Journal.
Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee told The Hill Tuesday that calls for Thomas to recuse are “absurd.”
“They’re not the ones to make that judgment call, nor am I aware of any standard by which he should be required to recuse himself in such a case,” he said, according to the outlet.