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House Democrats weigh stronger response to Judge Thomas’ conflict of interest accusations


WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee plan to hold a closed meeting to discuss how they might further respond to conflict of interest charges against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, the activist Conservative Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, three committee Democrats said.

The meeting was scheduled for Thursday, but a spokesperson for the committee said late Tuesday that it was postponed, likely until lawmakers return from a two-week recess in Congress on April 26. The spokesperson cited scheduling conflicts for the delay.

Some Democrats have already suggested drafting legislation to create a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices — which the court would likely consider fall short of the Constitution. Others have put forward the idea of ​​launching surveys or hold hearings to generate public pressure on judges to enact their own code.

“There will be a conversation about how to proceed. Some of us are eager to exercise some sort of oversight,” one of the Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday. “We fully understand the problems of separation of powers. There are major limitations, of course. But we cannot sit idly by. »

The lawmaker, who requested anonymity to discuss the privy committee’s deliberations, is one of a handful of Judiciary Committee progressives who have pressed Chairman Jerry Nadler, DN.Y., to call a meeting on the judge and his woman.

The Democrat called the meeting a “pretty specific response to a lot of us who were calling for some sort of action, or at least a conversation about the way forward.”

However, a Democratic spokesperson for the Judiciary Committee called the planned private meeting a regular meeting of members to discuss the panel’s upcoming agenda.

The committee has jurisdiction over the administration of federal courts and judicial ethics.

Democrats cried foul after the Washington Post and CBS News reported last month that Ginni Thomas texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election urging him to work hard. aggressive way to undo Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.

Around the same time, in the days following the media call for the 2020 race for Biden, Ginni Thomas also emailed a group of conservative House members, NBC News reported, the urging to “take to the streets” and be more aggressive in support of Trump’s efforts. overturn the election.

Democrats have called on Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from any additional cases related to the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Last January, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that executive privilege prevented the Jan. 6 committee from having access to a wealth of documents from its tenure. Thomas was the only judge to indicate that the court should accept Trump’s motion to block the National Archives from turning over the material.

Ginni Thomas has denied that her conservative activism, well known in Washington circles, represents a conflict of interest. In a recent interview with The Washington Free Beacon, she said she and her husband “share many of the same ideals, principles and aspirations for America” ​​but have “our own distinct careers, as well as our own ideas and opinions. “.

“Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me and I don’t involve him in my work,” she said.

It’s unclear exactly how lawmakers might tighten conflict-of-interest rules in the courts.

Federal judges are already subject to an official code of conduct for U.S. judges, which includes rules on ethics, integrity, and even the appearance of impropriety related to outside business and political activities and the acceptance of gifts. .

Supreme Court justices say they consult the code but are not bound by it or required to follow it. Congress has tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation to impose the code on them in the past.

Gregorian Dareh contributed.

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