The Power Couple
October 12, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

The wife of Justice Clarence Thomas is a Tea Party activist. Together, they’re the right’s new power couple. 'It’s like a Hollywood movie. One spouse goes off to work at the Supreme Court, that most august of institutions, where formality and discretion reign. The other puts on her power suit—and occasionally, a foam Lady Liberty crown—and enters the raucous, chaotic world of Tea Party politics and Fox News pontificating.''A lawyer, former staffer for the Republican congressman Dick Armey, and a former director at the Heritage Foundation, she speaks of herself as a bridge between the Republican establishment and the crowds rallying out of anger and frustration.'

'Ever since Ginni Thomas launched Liberty Central with $550,000 in November 2009, she has become a rising star in the constellation of conservative pundits.'

'Wearing a TV-red jacket, Thomas bantered with Hannity about the “tyranny” President Barack Obama and his party are inflicting on the country. Then Thomas, who had recently launched a nonprofit called Liberty Central, sounded a dire warning. “We are in a fight for our country’s life,” she said. “We’ve all got to do whatever we can.” Channeling Tea Party rhetoric, she called on conservative voters to give money, sign petitions, and, in November, overthrow those who are turning “citizens” into “subjects.”'

'As Thomas put it at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, "I have come to know and love the Tea Party Patriots. It has been a privilege to become a bit of an ambassador of sorts for the National Board."'

'Her overt disgust with Obama and Liberty’s political tone have caused some on the left to wonder whether her new job puts her in conflict with her husband’s claims to impartiality.'

'“I may not agree with Ginni Thomas on any policy issue, but what she’s doing seems—if I can’t say utterly commendable one could certainly say utterly proper in a democracy,” says David Garrow, a historian at Cambridge University. Ginni Thomas is not litigating cases that might end up before the court, nor is she covering the court for a newspaper. This is no big deal, agrees Tom Goldstein, publisher of SCOTUSblog: married couples often have two big jobs between them. “This is a really ironic place for liberals to be,” he says. “They’re giving the impression that a woman can’t have her own independent standing.”
posted by VikingSword (40 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
So?
posted by clavdivs at 8:21 AM on October 12, 2010


While the elite academics rub their chins and tut-tut over the "utter propriety" of her doing what she's doing, she and Clarence "Pin Point" Thomas will be raking in the cash hand over fist. Let's face it, the Tea Party is right up Clarence and Virginia's alley. Although she does look kinda ridiculous in that blue foam liberty tiara or whatever the hell it is she's wearing.
posted by blucevalo at 8:24 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You mean she may influence Thomas to cast conservative votes?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:29 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


is it terrible that the first thing I wanted to know about her is 'whats her ethnicity?'?

not utterly surprised that she's white...
posted by supermedusa at 8:30 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


1. Fuck over the country with wars, deficit & a screwed economy
2. Get booted out of power
3. Blame everything on the guy who took over the whole sorry mess
4. Profit!

I always wondered what 3. was...
posted by i_cola at 8:35 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


The mainstreaming of the Tea Party: the Thomases are part of the Republican establishment. Much has been made recently of the tensions between the Tea Party and the GOP (f.ex. Rove vs O'Donnell & Palin). The involvement of Ginny Thomas as a "bridge" between the two is an interesting development in the mainstreaming of the TP.
posted by VikingSword at 8:35 AM on October 12, 2010


This is a snake eating its own tail.
    
 //=\\
||   Q
||__//
 \--/

posted by kuatto at 8:37 AM on October 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Long may she lead in whatever weird direction she wants to go.

What angers me about this is that the potential conflict this creates for the Justice's hearing of many cases is obvious -- yet Mrs. Thomas' coyness over just who she is supporting and who is supporting her makes it very difficult for litigants to know when the Justice has a personal interest in the case before him.

I will add that seeing Thomas' follow Scalia's lead in being cavalier about judicial ethics just makes me burn more.
posted by bearwife at 8:42 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are many things I'd like to know about the "Tea Partiers" but near the top of the list is if Obama's policies are "tyranny" then why weren't they crying "tyranny" when the Patriot Act was being passed? Is it because "tyranny" is just a hyperbolic term for "shit I don't agree with"? If so then instant coffee, to me, is "tyranny" and I shall call it such.
posted by ob at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


But the Teaparty is independent, and it can't be reduced to the GOP, and it isn't controlled by GOP operatives, and they can't be held responsible for the nuttiness that people say and do at the rallies...
posted by OmieWise at 8:46 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


The involvement of Ginny Thomas as a "bridge" between the two is an interesting development in the mainstreaming of the TP.

On preview, Dick Armey is nothing if not mainstream.
posted by OmieWise at 8:47 AM on October 12, 2010


I find it very hard to believe that Justice Thomas really gives a rat's ass about claims of impartiality or judicial ethics, in this or any other context.

He's there, he's not going anywhere, and he'll be polluting the court with his "if the Constitution doesn't explicitly endorse it, throw it out" mentality for decades no matter what his wife says or does.
posted by delfin at 9:18 AM on October 12, 2010


If so then instant coffee, to me, is "tyranny" and I shall call it such.

Actually instant coffee is "fascism". It's empty donut boxes in the break room when you're hungry that's "tyranny".

And "bigot" is the guy who took like four of the creme filled before anyone else had a chance to.
posted by quin at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Taking four cream filled donuts is an atrocity.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:33 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clearly, we need there to be Senate hearings also to confirm the wives & husbands of Supreme Court justices. Just in case any one of them might have an odd idea that could influence decisions. Because the confirmation process is already too damn easy & uncontroversial & bipartisan.
posted by chavenet at 9:38 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn her for stepping out of the kitchen!
posted by gyc at 9:44 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I really love is how they get you both coming and going and then going again.

Like with healthcare. "Socialism!" First of all, no it isn't. Second of all, if it were it would actually be better.

And then the kicker: On Medicare.

(Oh and never mind the hypocrisy inherent in complaining about "paying for someone else" when that's exactly what even private insurance is. We all pay into the system and we all get what we need out of it. It's just that a "government-run" one doesn't skim profits off the top.)
posted by DU at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


If so then instant coffee, to me, is "tyranny" and I shall call it such.

This aggression will not stand!


posted by mmrtnt at 9:49 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Damn her for stepping out of the kitchen!"

Oh, fuck that straw man bullshit. It was in the article as well, and frankly, it's insulting to see it proffered anywhere. Not a single person has implied that she shouldn't have her own career, interests or politics. But she's deeply involved in a corrosive, extremist and nigh fascist movement here, and her personal connection to a Supreme Court justice is troubling.

Contra the article, there's nothing "ironic" about having concerns about her ability to influence her spouse, nor is there any implication that she should metaphorically get back to the kitchen, and it's pretty fucking insulting for you to trot that stupid shit out here. It's a way of undermining debate and poisoning the well, and fucking Newsweek should know better as well.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 AM on October 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


This is a snake eating its own tail.

Glad you clarified, I thought it was a coke can with a pube on it.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:12 AM on October 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wonder how she feels about 'activist' judges.
posted by zarq at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2010


I find it very hard to believe that Justice Thomas really gives a rat's ass about claims of impartiality or judicial ethics, in this or any other context.
He doesn't give a fuck.
posted by delmoi at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find this hopeful. (Probably, I'm being overly so.) As we know, Scalia set the bar for the appearance of impropriety very high when he refused to recuse himself from decisions affecting his hunting-buddy (and really fucking horrible shot), Dick Cheney, and never suffered even the slightest repercussion. But this looks pretty improper, right? I'm not familiar with a precedent for supreme court justices' wives' affiliations with extreme political parties, but maybe if Justice Thomas and his wife are given enough rope, maybe they could veer off into something apparently improper enough that even the disaffected American electorate might notice, like if they were to start eating babies.
posted by fartknocker at 11:10 AM on October 12, 2010


I could have sworn Newsweek and Slate were still co-owned but I guess the sale of Newsweek has gone through, because Slate has an interesting article out this week on Ginni Thomas, too. Dahlia Lithwick, the author of the Slate piece, is their Supreme Court columnist so she comes at the issue of Ginni Thomas' Tea Party leanings from that angle.
posted by librarylis at 11:19 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


...if Obama's policies are "tyranny" then why weren't they crying "tyranny" when the Patriot Act was being passed? Is it because "tyranny" is just a hyperbolic term for "shit I don't agree with"?

I initially read all instances of "tyranny" as "tranny" and was confused.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:24 AM on October 12, 2010



There are many things I'd like to know about the "Tea Partiers" but near the top of the list is if Obama's policies are "tyranny" then why weren't they crying "tyranny" when the Patriot Act was being passed?


Why did none of us start an anti Patriot Act Tea Party back in 2001 is perhaps a better question.

But the moment passed and since then the economy has gone to hell, and economics is always a whole lot closer to home than what appear to most as abstract liberties.

By the way, has anyone in congress lost a seat on account of voting for the act? Genuine ignorance on my part.

Oh, fuck that straw man bullshit.


True enough in this case perhaps, but in general it is a legitimate issue. At what point should Caesar's wife drop a job? Is disclosure enough? After all, Bill Clinton was raking in some pretty big money when his wife was a senator. Still is, as far as I know.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:37 AM on October 12, 2010


At what point should Caesar's wife drop a job?

Putting aside what he probably thinks of himself, surely, a more apt comparison could be found?

And it's not his wife's desire to burst the bonds of sexual identity that is at issue here. Right? She could get a job in construction if that was her point.
posted by fartknocker at 11:44 AM on October 12, 2010


here, here. you should see the jobs my wives had
posted by clavdivs at 11:50 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


For his wife to influence his opinion, Thomas would have to have an opinion. As far as I can tell, he just snoozes until it's time to vote with the lazy-originalist majority.
posted by rusty at 11:53 AM on October 12, 2010


Clearly, we need there to be Senate hearings also to confirm the wives & husbands of Supreme Court justices. Just in case any one of them might have an odd idea that could influence decisions. Because the confirmation process is already too damn easy & uncontroversial & bipartisan.

We should pay closer attention to this stuff across the branches, actually. Joe Lieberman's wife, for example, is a well-known and powerful lobbyist for private health insurance companies, and Lieberman played a critical role in getting the Senate to gut HCR from the majority side. Partisanship aside, this behind-the-scenes stuff that allows power couples to help each other make a few more bucks is rotting America from the inside.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


At what point should Caesar's wife drop a job?

Putting aside what he probably thinks of himself, surely, a more apt comparison could be found?

And it's not his wife's desire to burst the bonds of sexual identity that is at issue here. Right? She could get a job in construction if that was her point.


Yeah, maybe, but then I couldn't show off how wonderfully literary I am, so what good would that do?

And who said anything about sexual identity? I rise above such petty notions. Note that I cite Bill Clinton for putting Mrs C. into potential conflict.

But BP's cite of Lieberman will do nicely, if you prefer. I just wanted to point out that the argument is not necessarily made of straw, and should be laid out a lot more clearly than it is, so we can avoid these ad hoc discussions. (Hell, I thought Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell was cutting too close to the bone.)
posted by IndigoJones at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2010


here, here. you should see the jobs my wives had

posted by clavdivs at 11:50 AM on October 12

Plautia Urgulanilla: Mother and adulteress
Aelia Paetina: Mother, meanie, political liability
Valeria Messalina: Mother, political manipulator, reputed nymphomaniac
Agrippina: Politically convenient wife
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:15 PM on October 12, 2010


If the issue here is judicial independence, that's been a dead letter since Bush v. Gore in 2000.
posted by warbaby at 12:46 PM on October 12, 2010


This is a snake eating its own tail.

Not to take away from your poetic point, but I think "a snake with its head up its own ass" would be the better imagery there.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:10 PM on October 12, 2010


Plautia Urgulanilla: Mother and adulteress
Aelia Paetina: Mother, meanie, political liability
Valeria Messalina: Mother, political manipulator, reputed nymphomaniac
Agrippina: Politically convenient wife


Pictvres or it didn't happen.
posted by chavenet at 2:17 PM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


...not necessarily made of straw

Well, shucks, I still think it is. I think the points bearwife and klangklangston raised are the meat of the issue. Supreme Court Justices are supposed to be apolitical (aren't they?), so having a wife that is an active, outspoken member of a political party (a kooky and extreme one, at that) creates the appearance of impropriety and that, in turn, takes away whatever microscopic amount of public confidence in the justice's impartiality that might have existed in the first place.

To suggest that it is simply her having taken a job that's at issue here, as the "stepping out of the kitchen" line clearly implies, is not only false, but a mean attempt at misdirection.
posted by fartknocker at 3:37 PM on October 12, 2010


Just wondering why "the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas" didn't merit having her own name included in that sentence. Should I really have to click "more inside" to learn the name of the post's subject?
posted by epj at 3:37 PM on October 12, 2010


Well, shucks, I still think it is.

Hm. I thought I was pretty clear that between the mooting of possibilities, I'm probably stiffer than most on the conflict question. Guess not. For the record- sure the lists should be revealed. No brainer. I'd further advise the court spouses avoid all political rallies, dinners, fundraisers and marches, be they left, right, or middle. That's just me. (Oh, and by the way, I was not the author of the "out of the kitchen line".)

But I would also note that the strongest objections to these two seems to stem the party itself rather than the issue of where a spouse might work, or what he might say, or for whom campaign. We have some fairly incandescent rage and contempt going on here, rage and contempt I question would have arisen if the kooky and extreme party in question had been, say, the Greens.

Though perhaps I'm wrong.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:17 PM on October 12, 2010


Tea Party taken over by the Tea Party
posted by homunculus at 9:21 AM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Justice Thomas' wife asks Anita Hill for apology
posted by Burhanistan at 7:15 PM on October 19, 2010


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