Democrats slam Clarence Thomas for declining calls for recusal from CO ballot case

 February 9, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments in a challenge to Colorado's recent decision to bar former President Donald Trump from its primary ballot, and, as The Hill reports, a number of top Democrats were left fuming that Justice Clarence Thomas declined to recuse himself from participation due to what they contend are intractable conflicts of interest.

At issue during the closely watched session was whether individual states have the power to disqualify candidates seeking national office, as Colorado and Maine have both purported to do with regard to Trump in recent months, citing the so-called “insurrection clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Ahead of the hearing, a chorus of voices emerged on the left demanding that Thomas not take part in questioning or deliberations, citing his wife's well-known and highly public support for Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

Among those seeking Thomas' recusal was Senate Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin (D-IL), who took to social media as a means to express his thoughts on the matter.

“Given questions surrounding his wife's involvement, Justice Thomas should recuse himself so there's no question of bias,” Durbin wrote on X.

Prior comments made by Durbin on the matter were highlighted by Judiciary Committee Democrats, who posted video of him speaking to ABC News and saying, “I'm afraid Justice Thomas, through his family, has crossed a line. He should recuse himself so there is no question of bias in his decision.”

As The Hill pointed out, Durbin was not alone in his critique of Thomas' participation, with Rep. Dan Goldman noting the justice's prior decision to sit out arguments in a different case involving Jan. 6 questions and suggesting that the same principles should have applied to the Colorado ballot matter.

Goldman opined, “Having recused from a prior case related to Jan. 6 due to his wife's involvement, Justice Thomas's participation in Trump's ballot case is a shocking and intentional violation of his ethical obligations.”

“Clarence Thomas is not above the law. This is a true crisis at the Court,” Goldman maintained.

Regardless of the hyperbole emanating from the left, there were some observers who were more than pleased that Thomas refused calls for his recusal, with Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) joining the Heritage Foundation in declaring the longtime jurist a “national treasure.”

Indeed, Thomas did his best to live up to that billing in the hearts of conservatives by asking Jason Murray, the attorney representing Colorado in the case, a series of tough questions for which he appeared to have no answer.

In the face of Murray's insistence that states have the ability to boot presidential candidates from their ballots, Thomas asked the lawyer to provide concrete past examples of such scenarios, stating that the country's history – particularly during post-Civil War Reconstruction” would “suggests that there would at least be a few examples of national candidates being disqualified,” as Breitbart noted.

“Well, there were certainly national candidates who are disqualified by Congress refusing to seat them,” Murray replied, prompting Thomas to curtly declare, “that is not this case.”

Murray's inability to satisfactorily answer Thomas' question, combined with a hearty dose of skepticism for his position even among the court's liberal flank, has led many legal commentators to suggest that the panel may end up ruling in Trump's favor by a, 8-1 or perhaps even a 9-0 margin.