Those things being a return to pre-civil rights, pre-Roe, pre-1950 America, where the Thomases intend to take the country together. That’s within their reach, says John Yoo, a former Thomas law clerk and current U.C. Berkley law professor. “He has charted a very radical approach to judging — it’s surprising, actually, how far the court has moved in his direction,” Yoo told the Times approvingly. This is the same Yoo who drafted George W. Bush’s torture memos, the one who testified before Congress that torture was legal as long as the president “thinks he needs to do that.” That included torturing someone, for example, by crushing the testicles of their child in front of them.
So, yes, Yoo is quite pleased at this development, and excited for more. “What do you think is going to happen in the next 10 years when he might have a workable majority of originalists? I think we’re going to see the fruition of the last 30 years in the next 10.”
Leonard Leo, a former executive vice president of the Federalist Society, concurs. Before we get to the context of who he is and how he fits into this story, Leo is currently on the Council for National Policy, a group described by the Times as comprising “old-school Republican luminaries, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and MAGA operatives, with more than 400 members who include leaders of organizations like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council.”
Ginni Thomas joined leadership of the council during the Trump administration, and steered it into action using the influence of these high-profile members to get legislators in the Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania elections to overturn their election results—which, if successful, would have eventually led to a challenge in front of the Supreme Court.
Back to Leo, who describes Thomas’ long, silent, but arguably influential presence for evil on the court. “He was tilling the ground,” said Leo, who also happens to be a close family friend of the Thomases. “In other words, the field’s not ready for things to blossom or flourish, but he’s doing what he can to prepare it. And that’s what he’s been doing.”
An outgrowth of what they’ve been doing is working with the Federalist Society—and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—to build a Supreme Court in his mold. The zealotry behind that effort, and Ginni Thomas’ nearly unhinged commitment to it, is demonstrated in this excerpt from the Times article. The issue is the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and the sexual assault allegation raised against him.
With the nomination in the balance, Ginni Thomas addressed the Council for National Policy’s membership, mentioning her husband no less than four times. Before introducing an off-the-record session at a council conference in October 2018, Jerry Johnson, a member of the executive committee, reminded attendees to turn their cellphones off and “do not record.” (A video of the event later surfaced.)
Ginni Thomas invoked the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise at a charity baseball practice and the Kavanaugh nomination fight to make a larger claim that conservatives were under attack. “May we all have guns and concealed carry to handle what’s coming,” she said. “And what they’ve done to Brett Kavanaugh,” she continued, “I’m feeling the pain, Clarence is feeling the pain of going through false charges against a good man, and what they’re doing is unbelievable. I thought it couldn’t get worse than Clarence’s, but it did.”
Her anger building, she told the audience that there were signs all around them of existential threats. “You see rainbow flags throughout businesses, sending powerful, subtle messages to all the customers that ‘We’re the kind, decent, compassionate, tolerant people, until the Republican evil conservatives show up, and those are all automatically hateful people,’” she said. “I see things in my veterinarian: ‘Spread Kindness,’ ‘Build Community,’ ‘Hate Is Not Welcome Here,’” she continued. “Look how defensive we are, because they have these cultural foundations.” Returning to the battle at hand, the Kavanaugh fight, she said, “Even if he gets in—I believe he’ll get in, I’m hoping he gets in, but they’re not going to leave him alone.” It was clear it was personal: “They’re trying to impeach him. They’re coming for my husband. They’re coming for President Trump!”
If you need any clearer sense of what her husband’s agenda on the Supreme Court is, that rant against her (checks notes) veterinarian’s community spirit says it all. He’s now reliably joined by another four members of the court, often five. “I love calling it the Thomas court,” said Helgi Walker, another former Thomas clerk. “He didn’t change. That’s why it’s been wonderful to watch this arc. The influence he exerts comes from the power of his ideas,” she continued. “That’s what his legacy is built on.”
Democrats have talked about the need to restore the court’s integrity and the public’s confidence in it, as if that ship hadn’t sailed with the appointment of Trump’s three illegitimate picks. Some have suggested that what they need to help achieve that is a bipartisan vote in the Senate for Biden’s upcoming nominee. As if Republicans hadn’t already packed the court. As if elected Republicans haven’t been willing to do anything and everything in their power to rig the system in their favor.
Republicans secured a compliant Supreme Court majority, one willing to fully embrace the Court's ignominious Jim Crow past, as Thomas has been envisioning for three decades on the court. This is a court majority that wants the minority of the electorate and elected officials to rule.
So that’s it. It’s the Thomas Court now. One Biden appointment is not going to change that. Getting any Republican votes for that one Biden appointee is not going to change that.
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