Virginia Thomas: Just an Average Citizen Joining the Tea Party?

Suzanne Murray
manhattan tea party

flickr: photo by ajagendorf25

Virginia Thomas is just an ordinary citizen from the Midwest who recently launched a tea-party-linked group. No big deal. Or is it?

You see, Virgina Thomas (who goes by Ginni) isn't really an ordinary citizen at all -- she's also the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ethical rules for justices prize the appearance of nonpartisanship -- even though we all pretty much know the political leanings of every justice on the bench. Experts say that Virginia Thomas's involvement in this conservative group (called Liberty Central) could give rise to conflicts of interest for her husband since it "tests the norms for judicial spouses."

Under judicial rules, judges must curb political activity, but a spouse is free to engage.

That's as it should be for many reasons, including this one: Just because you're married, it doesn't mean you share the same politics. While in the case of the Thomas's, it's painfully obvious that they're both conservatives, would the media be as concerned about Ginni's tea party involvement "testing notions of political impartiality for the court" if she had become a Coffee Party activist? My guess: for sure. The uproar just would have been coming from the media on the other side.

I think Virginia Thomas has a right to join whatever political groups she wants. She shouldn't lose her identity just because she's married to a judge. Drink all the tea you want, Ginni!

I'm a coffee drinker myself.

Do you think the spouse of a Supreme Court justice should have the right to be politically active?

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