In the days after the 2020 election, Ginni Thomas — who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows telling him not to let Donald Trump concede the 2020 election, new reports from the Washington Post and CBS News show.
The private messages reveal a shocking pipeline between Thomas and the White House, in which Thomas regurgitated conspiracy theories about faulty voting systems and fake ballots. But Thomas’ enthusiasm for Trump and support for overturning the election was already well known: She put it on social media.
“GOOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!” Thomas wrote on Facebook the morning of Jan. 6, according to screenshots taken by Slate writer Mark Stern. “LOVE MAGA people!!!” she wrote later that morning in a separate post.
Thomas even attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally — though she has said she left before noon, before the attendees marched to the Capitol.
Thomas, a well-connected Washington-based lawyer, consultant and political activist, has for years worked both in public and behind the scenes to advance conservative causes. In doing so, she’s raised repeated questions about her potential influence on Clarence Thomas, who did not recuse himself from Supreme Court decisions related to the integrity of the election.
Ginni Thomas’ actions push the Supreme Court into uncharted territory, experts say. Until recent decades, justices’ spouses did not usually work, nullifying concerns about potential conflicts of interests caused by their careers. And no spouse has been as vocal on the political scene.
“This is entirely new, and it was just jaw-dropping that she could be so active in something that was bound to come before the court, and then equally stunning that he didn’t recuse himself,” said Lucas A. Powe Jr., a former Supreme Court clerk and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
Justices are expected to recuse themselves if real or perceived conflicts of interest arise with a Supreme Court case — which can include conflicts of interest created by a spouse. But there are few other ethics rules guiding spouses’ behavior, Powe said. And whether or not to recuse from a case is entirely a justice’s decision.
Thomas did not respond to requests for comment. In a March interview with the Washington Free Beacon, she said she did not support the Capitol riot and does not discuss her work with her husband.
“Like so many married couples, we share many of the same ideals, principles and aspirations for America,” Thomas told the Washington Free Beacon. “But we have our own separate careers, and our own ideas and opinions too. Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work.”
She also said she was “disappointed and frustrated that there was violence that happened following a peaceful gathering of Trump supporters on the Ellipse on Jan. 6.”
“There are important and legitimate substantive questions about achieving goals like electoral integrity, racial equality and political accountability that a democratic system like ours needs to be able to discuss and debate rationally in the political square. I fear we are losing that ability,” Thomas said.
Born in Nebraska as Virginia Lamp, Thomas has had a long career in Republican politics.
By the age of 26, she had worked as an aide for former Republican Rep. Hal Daub of Nebraska and received her Juris Doctorate degree from Creighton University School of Law. She returned to Washington after graduating from law school and held a series of roles at blue-chip conservative organizations: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the George H.W. Bush-era Labor Department, the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill and then the Heritage Foundation. While working as a congressional aide, she also briefly fell in with the cultish self-help group Lifespring before leaving the group and embracing anti-cult activism.
Ginni Lamp had her foot in the door in Washington before meeting Clarence Thomas, who led the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 1986. The two married a year later, and Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991. During his three decades on the bench, she has become more active in elections, raising questions about whether her politics could impact the court.
As George W. Bush headed to the Supreme Court to contest the 2000 election, Ginni Thomas worked at the Heritage Foundation, where she compiled resumes for potential Bush administration appointees, according to the New York Times.
After Barack Obama was elected — and shortly after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which opened a gateway to new spending on elections — Thomas founded a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Liberty Central. The group’s website called the recently passed Obamacare law “dangerous to health and freedom” and said it would devote itself to “protecting core founding principles of the United States.”
“Liberty Central will be bigger than the Tea Party movement,” Thomas told Fox News while attending a Tea Party rally in 2010. During the 2010 election, Liberty Central ran online ads and held web events. At one point during the election, Thomas’ name appeared on a public memo calling Obamacare “unconstitutional.” She removed her name from the memo after public scrutiny.
But Liberty Central’s funding raised further questions about Thomas’ activism and her spouse. The group was started with an anonymous $500,000 donation, raising questions about whether a donor could try to sway Justice Thomas’ thinking by donating to his wife’s organization.
Liberty Central gave Ginni Thomas the makings of conservative stardom. But less than a year later, Thomas left the organization amid a press scandal that she said was taking the focus away from Liberty Central’s work: A phone call that Thomas placed to Anita Hill, the woman who had accused her husband of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
“Good morning, Anita Hill. It’s Ginni Thomas,” Thomas said in a voice message in October 2010, nearly 20 years after her husband’s confirmation and just days before the midterm elections.
“I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years, and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband,” Thomas continued. “So give it some thought and certainly pray on this, and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”
Hill took offense to the call. “Even if it wasn’t a prank, it was in no way conciliatory for her to begin with the presumption that I did something wrong in 1991. I simply testified to the truth of my experience,” she told ABC News at the time.
No one deciphered exactly why Thomas placed the call so long after the fact. Justice Thomas, who rarely speaks in public, has said little about his wife. But in a 2011 recording of Thomas speaking at a Federalist Society event, excerpts of which New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel tweeted out Friday, Thomas spoke about their strong bond.
“We believe in the same things,” Thomas said. “We are focused on defending liberty. So I admire her and I love her for that because it keeps me going.”
Ginni Thomas endorsed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas during the 2016 election but supported Trump after he was nominated. She has also quietly become involved with several conservative political groups: CNP Action, Inc., a political nonprofit; Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA; and Groundswell, a network of conservative activists that Thomas leads.
Through Groundswell, Thomas met with Trump for nearly an hour in 2019. During the meeting, Thomas and others discussed appointments they thought Trump should make to his administration, according to reports at the time. Among the suggestions floated by Thomas were former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and conservative radio host Dan Bongino for roles at the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report in Axios.
The texts between Thomas and Meadows were submitted by Meadows to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. But there could be more texts between the two that were not submitted or leaked to the public.
“This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote to Thomas, according to the Washington Post. “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 D.C. on it.”
“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!” Thomas replied.
Thanks to Alicia Benjamin for copy editing this article.