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Did Trump's Meeting With Clarence Thomas's Antigay Wife Cross a Line?

Ginni Thomas

Ginni Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and some say her activism poses conflicts of interest for him.


A variety of political observers are up in arms over Donald Trump's recent meeting with far-right activists led by Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a vocal opponent of LGBTQ equality.

"It is unusual for the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice to have such a meeting with a president, and some close to Mr. Trump said it was inappropriate for Ms. Thomas to have asked to meet with the head of a different branch of government," The New York Times reports of the meeting, which took place last week.

Ginni Thomas is outspoken about her ultraconservative views and has made many anti-LGBTQ statements. "Her activism has raised concerns of conflicts of interest for her husband, who is perhaps the most conservative member of the Supreme Court," the Times notes.

Besides Thomas, the meeting included Connie Hair, who was introduced in the meeting as a conservative columnist but who is also chief of staff to homophobic Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, and two advocates for curbing immigration, Frank Gaffney and Rosemary Jenks. Gaffney is known for many anti-Muslim comments.

In the meeting, at least one attendee said marriage equality was harmful to the nation, and some made anti-transgender remarks, according to the Times. One said women should not serve in the military because they had the physical capabilities, "and another attendee was dismissive that sexual assault is pervasive in the military," the paper reports. Members of the group also complained that some people Thomas and Hair recommended for jobs in the Trump administration were rejected because of White House staffers' objections.

GLAAD is now calling for the White House to release official notes from the meeting.

"The fact that President Trump is taking counsel from known anti-LGBTQ activists like Ginni Thomas regarding policies that could impact LGBTQ people and families should have Americans gravely concerned about the foundations of our government, and they deserve to see the official notes that came from that meeting," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO at GLAAD, in a press release. "LGBTQ people know President Trump wants to roll back their hard-fought progress, but this clear display of coordination between the Executive Branch and the wife of a U.S. Supreme Court justice shows Americans the Trump Administration will do anything to push an agenda - even if it means shredding the checks and balances system."

"The White House has a responsibility to release official notes from the meeting and provide context in the violently anti-LGBTQ work that Thomas and her organization lead," their statement continues.

GLAAD has added Ginni Thomas to its Trump Accountability Project, which details the anti-LGBTQ records of administration officials and related individuals. The LGBTQ organization notes that Thomas is a founding member of a group called Groundswell, which lobbies against LGBTQ rights, and that she has written columns endorsing anti-transgender views. She has denounced "the emergence of transgender rights" and praised schools that refuse to allow trans students access to the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice.

Thomas has also posted incendiary social media comments on other issues, The Hill reports.

These include her saying the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting are a threat to the nation because of their push for gun control, and that conservative conservative Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio was being falsely accused of complicity in sexual abuse of student athletes at Ohio State University because he "threatens the elite." Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at the school in the 1990s, and men who were members of the team have accused a doctor of sexual misconduct -- and said that Jordan knew about it, something he denies.

Her activism has caused other groups to now be incresingly concerned about conflicts of interest for her husband. One of them is Fix the Court, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for greater accountability and transparency on the part of the Supreme Court.

"Husbands & wives often have differing political views, but given the frequent counsel Justice Thomas has acknowledged he receives from his wife & the increased regularity with which Ginni has staked out positions on issues before SCOTUS we've reached a tipping point & Justice Thomas should seriously consider recusal in order to safeguard the integrity of the judiciary," executive director Gabe Roth wrote on Twitter Saturday. The group has raised similar concerns about other justices, both conservative (Neil Gorsuch) and liberal (Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

Ginni Thomas first entered the public eye when President George H.W. Bush nominated her husband to the Supreme Court in 1991; she was then a lawyer in the Department of Labor. During the confirmation process, Anita Hill, who had worked for Clarence Thomas at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the early 1980s, came forward to say he had sexually harassed her.

In an interview with People magazine after Clarence Thomas's confirmation to the court, Ginni Thomas likened Hill to the character of the scorned, vengeful woman in the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction. "In my heart, I always believed she was probably someone in love with my husband and never got what she wanted," Ginni Thomas told the magazine.

In 2010, Ginni Thomas left an early-morning phone message for Hill, saying, "I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband."

In response, Hill told The Washington Post, "She can't ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.
Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.