“The facts are clear here. This is unbelievable. You have the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice … advocating for overturning a legal election to the sitting president’s chief of staff. She also knows this election — these cases are going to come before her husband. This is a textbook case for removing him, recusing him from these decisions.”
—-Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) on ABC’s “This Week,” blathering nonsense to co-anchor Jonathan Karl today, as he, predictably, showed neither the erudition nor the guts to correct he, as she insisted that a conflict of interest that does not exist in law is a “textbook case.”
I was tempted to let the Senator’s outrageous misinformation (Will Twitter suspend her for it? Nah….) slide, except that 1) Too many lawyers and reasonable progressives of my acquaintance settled on her as their favored 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful, and she said ridiculous things like this throughout the debates, using false certitude for fact and reason, and it ticked me off; 2) her statement isn’t just wrong, but spectacularly wrong, and 3) you know how I hate to see high officials that the public trusts use their megaphones and influence to make it even more ignorant than it already is.
“A textbook case,” she says! Well I can’t wait to see that textbook, because there is none that contains any precedent for a Supreme Court Justice, or any judge, recusing from a case because of his or her spouse’s statements, public or otherwise, or her private communications. As I recently explained here, the law does not regard the opinions or activities of judge’s spouses as technical or actual conflicts of interest. A textbook case would be a precedent, and no precedent exists. If, and only if, Justice Thomas recused himself on such flimsy reasoning…that would be a “textbook case.”
Yes indeed, the facts are “clear”: Ginni Thomas is not a party to any likely case that will come before the Court involving her and the January 6, 2021 riot. Expressing her opinion to Mark Meadows is not a crime, unless the current Democratic regime’s progress toward criminalizing speech, opinion, dissent and politics has progressed further than I was under the impression that it had. Sen. Klobuchar’s use of “clear,” however, is the infamous sort that lawyers joke about: when an advocate says a point is clear, it usually means that the lawyer can’t prove it with authority. Meanwhile, what Mrs. Thomas “knows” is completely irrelevant to the question of her husband’s recusal. She has no limits on her speech or conduct under ethical rules or law. What Justice Thomas would prefer her to say or do is between them.
Klobuchar could have made a fair argument for Thomas to recuse, which I will deal with in Part 2 of this post. That would be the “appearance of impropriety” facet of judicial ethics, but again, there is no textbook case on that regarding a jurist’s wife. Instead, she chose to substitute emotion, emphasis and false assertions for an argument.
She is a smug lightweight, and an untrustworthy one.
Just as I concluded in 2020.