The damage may already be done, but it looks as though Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, will resign as president and CEO of Liberty Central, the Tea Party think tank she founded. According to published report, Thomas is stepping down because she would like to spare the organization the “distractions” caused by her celebrity.
Thomas gave no indication that she was stepping down to spare the Supreme Court for the same reasons.
Thomas first came under scrutiny for the affiliation when she refused to disclose donors of the group, despite the fact that the very nature of Liberty Central all but assured that some of those donors would have matters pending before the Court. Judicial ethics require a sitting justice to recuse him or herself in those circumstances. But without any disclosure then there is no basis to require (or demand) a recusal from Thomas’ husband.
Thomas has repeatedly insisted that her presence advocating on behalf of a political group and for issues that would likely find their way before the Court was in no way a conflict of interest for her husband. She has also insisted that the group is far more benign than media reports would indicate.
However, Liberty Central has been linked with several far-right fringe groups including Gun Owners of America (whose leader recently declared “war” on the federal government) and the Missouri Sovereignty Project, whose Web site features a video threatening armed insurrection against the government.
photo courtesy of Jeff Kubina via Flickr