Cory Booker Says SCOTUS Needs to “Use This Thomas Affair” to Change Its Ethics Rules

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Reactions to a series of text messages from GOP activist and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas to former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election are still pouring from both sides of the aisle. Today, Sen. Cory Booker (D.-N.J.) weighed in and called for a change to the highest court’s ethics rules.
Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday Booker said that he has had “a lot of frustrations” with the US Supreme Court as a whole because “they haven’t taken measures to police themselves.” 
“They need to use this Thomas affair as an opportunity to change their ethics rules,” Booker said. 
To recap the reasons for the scrutiny on Ginni Thomas, I’ll refer to my colleague Noah Kim’s story about how she had repeatedly urged Trump’s top aide to overturn the election by any means necessary. This in itself would not be a problem, except for the fact that as a Supreme Court justice, her husband ruled on cases directly related to that effort.
Here are some sample texts that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was sending to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in the aftermath of the 2020 election:
On November 5, 2020, she cited a Sandy Hook-denying right-wing commentator and referenced QAnon conspiracy theories that Donald Trump had watermarked ballots to track voter fraud: “Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states.” 
That same day, she quoted language circulating on pro-Trump sites: “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.” She added: “I hope this is true.” 
On November 10, 2020, she wrote: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”
Allow me to state the obvious: This is fucking insane. And not just Fox News insane, but 8Chan-invoking, conspiracy theory-mongering, InfoWars-repeating, QAnon-spouting bonkers. 
Since The Washington Post and CBS News reported on the messages, many lawmakers have called for Thomas to recuse himself from upcoming cases around the Jan. 6 insurrection and any possible election cases should Trump run again. But high-ranking Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have come out in defense of Thomas. Florida Sen. Rick Scott is the latest Republican to say that “Clarence Thomas, in my opinion, will always do the right thing.” Still, Scott told “Fox News Sunday” that he would support legislation to change the Supreme Court’s code of ethics to align with the ethics federal judges are asked to follow. 

WATCH: “Clearly” Justice Thomas “should have recused himself” from election cases given his wife, Ginni Thomas, sent “stop the steal” texts around the Jan. 6 insurrection, Sen. @CoryBooker says.
“[The Supreme Court needs] to use this … to change their ethics rules.”
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 27, 2022

Beyond an overhaul of the Supreme Court ethics guidelines, Booker also called for “a thorough investigation to better understand exactly what has happened.”