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Sympathy pangs for Ginni Thomas

By Eva Rodriguez

I'm a little surprised to be writing this, but I sort of feel sorry for Ginni Thomas.

The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Ginni has just announced that she will be relinquishing control of Liberty Central, a grass-roots organization she founded earlier this year to serve as a clearinghouse for conservative and Tea Party policy initiatives. Her work immediately raised questions about the propriety of a justice's wife working in so partisan an atmosphere and about whether her activism might affect the husband's judgment.

The Thomases are not the first power couple to face perception challenges in Small Town Washington. Take, for example, the fine line that must be walked by a wife who is an official at a regulatory agency where the husband routinely represents clients. Or an elected official whose portfolio includes issues on which his spouse lobbies. Usually, disclosure is the best antiseptic; officials can refuse to participate in cases involving their spouses or the spouses can decline to represent clients before tribunals where their significant others have sway. While sacrifices in individual cases may be necessary, neither of the parties is permanently enjoined from doing his or her job.

The case is even trickier, I think, when one of the spouses is a Supreme Court justice. Every issue that she works on has the potential to land at the high court. Justice Thomas likely would not be required to recuse himself from a case unless his wife or Liberty Central had a direct interest in that specific matter. But how would it look if he had a hand in deciding the constitutionality of health care reform -- a proposal that Liberty Central has strenuously attacked? What about a legal challenge -- if it is passes -- to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Liberty Central's website dubs "the Job Killing, Trial Lawyers Bonanza Act." Justice Thomas may have a clear conscience in weighing these issues, but critics would argue with some credibility that he does not have "clean hands."

So, what happens? Ginni Thomas steps aside as CEO of Liberty Central. A spokesperson for the group said the decision was made so that "Liberty Central can continue with its mission without any of the distractions." (I doubt that Justice Thomas offered to ease the tensions by stepping down from his job.) You can bet that Ginni's tenure would not have been as distracting had she not been married to one of only nine people in this country who decide what the law is. She didn't help matters much last month when she asked Anita Hill to apologize for alleging in 1991 that she had been sexually harassed by then-nominee Thomas. In the end, Ginni's foray into political activism may have been misguided from the start, but I can't help but feel some sympathy for someone who has to essentially lower her voice because of a spouse's job.

By Eva Rodriguez  | November 15, 2010; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Comments

I find this whole discussion rich. We have one justice who worked for a senate committee and was closely associated with one particular senator. Does anyone think this justice is not a political animal? Another justice worked for a prominant advocacy organization that has over the years litigated numerous matters before the federal courts. Again, does any one believe that this justice is neutral on many many matters. Simply put, everyone appointed to the federal bench whether at the district, appeals, or supreme court is a political animal of one sort or another. The fact that the wife of a justice gets attention for being politically active shows how bizarre our political system is.

Posted by: jeffreed | November 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Mrs. Thomas needs to quash her voice entirely. She should, however, give some thought before she opens her mouth. Asking Anita Hill to apologize for the 1991 outing of Clarence Thomas's previously boorish behavior was beyond the pale.

How about Clarence apologizing to Ms. Hill for acting like a complete a**?? I have always believed Ms. Hill was honest, and Clarence was lying. If anyone is owed an apology, it's Ms. Hill!!

Mrs. Thomas totally should have minded her business and kept her yap shut on that one.

Posted by: ms1234 | November 15, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Silence, prudence, hesitancy, diffidence, sufferance--a few conservative virtues to strive for, for the conservative wife of a conservative Justice.

Posted by: rusty3 | November 15, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Power couple my a**. These two are the most perverted, self interest and self righteous forked tongued through and through conservative republicans with their perversity of a so called marriage, inequality, malignant narcissism, chronic scape goating, uncorrectable grab bagging, use of coercion and down right fraud. Thomas himself is yahoo and Ginni a hussy of all hussies that these conservative republicans found to keep a the nit wit Mr. ding dong in their control. That is precisely why Thomas is Scalia's water boy on and off the court.

The so called couple are nothing but over rated , over feed hogs and perverts if not cheap drunks.

Posted by: winemaster2 | November 15, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Mrs. Thomas should have minded her own Ps'n'Qs and not pestered Professor Hill with a voice mail message about a long-ago Senate confirmation hearing many of us had forgotten (having had to try very hard to do so, after thorough washing out our brains of some of the testimony topics).
Clearly Mrs. Thomas judgment is off at present. She should have also known that being the wife of one of THE most conservative Supreme Court justices (1 of 9) precluded her from having a public political life. I do not feel sorry for Mrs. Thomas, except to say it appears she may be having some sort of emotional breakdown and may need to devote her attention, energy and time to healing the wounds she has experienced.

Posted by: joycebl | November 15, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"Take, for example, the fine line that must be walked by a wife who is an official at a regulatory agency where the husband routinely represents clients. Or an elected official whose portfolio includes issues on which his spouse lobbies."

There is NO fine line: (1) if the wife is an official at the regulatory agency, either the wife resigns or hubby gets new clientele or career; (2) in the latter case, either the elected official offloads the portfolio or the spouse lobbies for different industries.

Ethics still exist, even today. If people have a hard time resolving ethical issues, they need to move out of official positions.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | November 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Feel sorry for Ginny Thomas??? You've got to be kidding. She shot herself in the foot with that stupid phone call. Besides, Ginny Thomas has raked in millions from her time with this organization. The money will keep flowing just not out in the open like before. Her husband did his job real well.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | November 15, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for Ginny Thomas? Nope. Sorry for our nation, that we are saddled with a Supreme Court Justice who has a lifetime sinecure despite being egregiously unqualified, dishonest, and lacking in any conception of judicial ethics? Yes, extremely.
Every "power couple" in D.C. is aware of the potential of conflicts of interest, and realizes that they must make compromises to deal with the problem. I only wish that the compromise they had worked out was for HIM to resign HIS position.

Posted by: Lamentations | November 15, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

The greatest 'sorry' I have is that Clarence Thomas remains on the Supreme Court. Ginnie Thomas was not a 'threat' to our 'Justice System' - Clarence Thomas is. Knowing of the money she was personally raking in, WHY didn't he recuse himself from the latest lame-brained Supreme Court decision of allowing donors to remain anonymous - giving banks, corporations, oil companies, billionaires, etc., the chance to BUY our elections? He should be impeached or he should resign ASAP!!

Posted by: rbsher | November 15, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Eva, but I cannot garner any sympathy for the female half of the creepy couple from Alexandria. Clarence is already compromising his impartiality by attending conservative think tank conventions that include the Koch Bros. His wife's activities are just icing on the cake.

Posted by: Sandydayl | November 15, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I reserve my sympathy for those who are deserving of such.

She married a man who had been accused of sexual harassment in a public forum; she took a job that she knew, or should have known, would have issues before her husband; and she called someone, at their office, making a demand for which she had no right.

She is a jerk and/or fool and does not deserve any sympathy.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 15, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

There is plenty of work to be done in this world. Perhaps she could teach a child to read. She could visit wounded Veteran's in the hospital. She could volunteer at a Crisis Nursery. She could work with battered women at a shelter. She looks strong and healthy, perhaps Habitat for Humanity. She could even start her own non-profit to help others and become CEO.

Posted by: MNUSA | November 15, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

It's over Ginni. What about Clarence? Ginni got upset when it became obvious to her that Hill was right aout him, that more about Clarence was coming out. He'll be recusing himself for the rest of his life.

Posted by: dudh | November 15, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh Eva, puleeeze. Enough with the poor little judge's wife baloney.

The ONLY relevant questions vis a vis the Thomases: who donated the $550,000 to found Liberty Center; how much of that $550,000 went into the Thomases bank account via Ginni Thomas' paycheck; finally, did Clarence know who had funded Liberty Center and that his wife was working for it when he participated in the Citizens United decision.

Posted by: smeesq | November 15, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who complains about Mrs. Thomas' involvement in political causes is a hypocrite. Michelle Obama campaigned for Harry Reid didn't she? Hillary Clinton was a political animal when Bill Clinton was president. The left is full of examples of spouses of the political machine also participating. To think that just because a woman is married to someone, she forfeits her right to participate in the political life of our nation is just un-American.

Posted by: FormerDemocrat | November 15, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. Thomas could get a job at the Court. Ride in with hubby, clean the office, help type and cook lunch? Also, meet folks and encourage them to donate to her causes?

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | November 15, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

This discussion (and related threads over the past week or so) have so vastly increased "media" (what mediums are we talking about anyway? I haven't seen sidewalk artists selling caricatures of Ginny Thomas, nor have I heard any good poems or rap songs about her. As far as I know, she doesn't have a bobble-head or a Pez dispenser, or even a cheap crappy T-shirt at any of the sidewalk vendors.) attention that she's in danger of becoming nearly as relevant as this week's love interest of a minor Kardashian cousin.

Gimme a break. The organization (& Ms. Thomas) doth protest too much.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 15, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

A number of posters seem to think that spouses of politicians and justices of the Supreme Court are constrained by the same ethical rules. This is completely illogical and incorrect. Justices are NOT elected officials, and they are bound by a whole set of ethical obligations and federal laws that oblige them to never give an appearance of impropriety.

Posted by: smeesq | November 15, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"a grass-roots organization she founded earlier this year "

Thanks, Eva, for the laugh--a "grass-roots" organization founded by the wife of a Supreme Court justice. Personally, I have more sympathy for words like "grass-roots" which has been so abused lately that it apparently no longer means anything.

Posted by: writinron | November 15, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

"a grass-roots organization she founded earlier this year "

Thanks, Eva, for the laugh--a "grass-roots" organization founded by the wife of a Supreme Court justice. Personally, I have more sympathy for words like "grass-roots" which has been so abused lately that it apparently no longer means anything.

Posted by: writinron | November 15, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Sympathy? You've got to be kidding! You know darned well that even though she stepped down as CEO, she will be there with her nose and fingers in all the action.

As for asking Anita Hill to apologize - words fail me. Actually they don't, but I know that what I have to say would be deleted because it would certainly not be complimentary to Ms Thomas.

Posted by: Utahreb | November 15, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Sympathy? You've got to be kidding! You know darned well that even though she stepped down as CEO, she will be there with her nose and fingers in all the action.

As for asking Anita Hill to apologize - words fail me. Actually they don't, but I know that what I have to say would be deleted because it would certainly not be complimentary to Ms Thomas.

Posted by: Utahreb | November 15, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh puh-leez, Ginni Thomas brought about her own fall-from-the-top of her own organization with her bizarre re-opening of this old (but obviously festering) wound. If she had not had some sort of brain fart, and drawn all this attention to herself she would still be tea-bagging away at the top. Sympathy, indeed!

Posted by: no1buckigirl | November 15, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Who is Eva Rodriguez and how did she ever get a WaPo column? Is she another ex-Bush speechwriter or what?

Posted by: turningfool | November 15, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Puleeeeze....give me a break! Sympathy for Ginni?! She had no business getting involved in political think tanks or organizations. Her husband is a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America and she should have enough respect for our country to recuse herself from this type of political activity. Clarence Thomas should also be answering some questions about this nonsense. Who the heck do these people think they are to be above ethics?!

Posted by: sharronkm | November 15, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

"In the end, Ginni's foray into political activism may have been misguided from the start, but I can't help but feel some sympathy for someone who has to essentially lower her voice because of a spouse's job."

Interesting - To me, Ginny sounded like she not only deserved a voice by marriage, but the loudest one as befits the wife of a supreme court justice. So thanks for re-framing that for me.

Naahhh...She's a right-wing big mouth who was definitely using unearned celebrity to push a far-right, bible-beating agenda and attack Anita Hill. Nice try.

Posted by: USA4ALL | November 15, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

You're an IDIOT, Eva Rodriguez-purely-where in hades did the Post find you, huh? Talk about uninsightful-not to mention unintelligent! An EEO hire, I presume?

Posted by: Spring_Rain | November 15, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

You're an IDIOT, Eva Rodriguez-purely-where in hades did the Post find you, huh? Talk about uninsightful-not to mention unintelligent! An EEO hire, I presume?

Posted by: Spring_Rain | November 15, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

How about mentioning Mitch The Turtle McConnell, and his Dragon Lady wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao? How about mentioning Darth and Lynne "Lesbian Kiss" Cheney, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities? I wonder if the Humanities were well-endowed when Lynne was Chair.

Posted by: angelos_peter | November 16, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

If you need cahs immediately then answer is payday loan because The application process for payday loan is very simple. You just have to fill out and submit a simple online application form. You do not even need to give a personal visit to the lender, in order to apply, the best place I have always used is "Nimble Payday" they are fast and easy to use

Posted by: lewisclark | November 16, 2010 3:51 AM | Report abuse


You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://ow.ly/3akSX .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!


Posted by: maquinnajo | November 16, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

How interesting -- both articles in the Wash. Post. So far both of them aren't getting that many conservative/tea bagging comments. Where are they hiding? WHY are they hiding? Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't have the word recuse in his computer/dictionary. He should step down!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: phyllisr5 | November 16, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

"She (Ginni Thomas) didn't help matters much last month when she asked Anita Hill to apologize for alleging in 1991 that she had been sexually harassed by then-nominee Thomas. In the end, Ginni's foray into political activism may have been misguided from the start, but I can't help but feel some sympathy for someone who has to essentially lower her voice because of a spouse's job.

It hardly seems that the author "feels some sympathy" for Ms. Thomas' need to "lower her voice" if she can't defend her own husband by asking his accuser to apologize.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | November 16, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

This woman is not lowering her voice because of her husbands job. She is lowering her voice because she inappropiately raised it in the first place.

Posted by: collegebound1 | November 16, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

You feel sorry for here? I can't imagine how you must feel for Anita Hill.

Posted by: fschroth | November 16, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

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