Judiciary

Justice Thomas’ Wife Sees Possible Double Standard in Partiality Questions

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

News of a new conservative website founded by Virginia Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has some critics debating whether a justice’s spouse should be involved in a political movement.

But Virginia “Ginni” Thomas wants to know why the focus is on her, given another high-profile couple: Judge Marjorie Rendell of the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Virginia Thomas spoke briefly to a Los Angeles Times reporter who wanted to know how her role in the Liberty Central website could affect perceptions of her husband’s impartiality.

“I don’t involve myself in litigation,” she told the reporter. “Are you asking that because there’s a different standard for conservatives? Did you ask Ed Rendell that question?”

Marjorie Rendell does not accompany her husband to political activities, although she does preside at some events as first lady, the Washington Post reports. In cases where there is a possible conflict of interest, she seeks the opinion of the judiciary’s Committee on Codes of Conduct, the Los Angeles Times says.

Another well-known judge, Stephen Reinhardt of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, is married to Ramona Ripston, head of the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Post says. He recuses himself in cases brought by the ACLU branch.

The Post was unable to get comment from from Virginia or Justice Clarence Thomas for its story on the new educational website aimed at citizen activists. Sue Hamblen, Liberty Central’s national coordinator, told the newspaper that Virginia Thomas met with ethics officials for the federal courts and was told her work “was in no way a conflict of interest.”

“She did not give up her First Amendment rights when her husband became a Supreme Court judge,” Hamblen told the Post.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.