Justice Jackson Recused Herself From a Supreme Court Case. Your Move, Clarence Thomas!

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stepped out due to a potential conflict of interest. Anyone else feel the need to do that on any subject? No?

Justice Jackson Recused Herself From a Supreme Court Case. Your Move, Clarence Thomas!
Photo:Getty (Getty Images)

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments that will likely result in its overturning of affirmative action in education. The plaintiffs allege that race-conscious school admissions are a form of discrimination against White and Asian students. It’s bad! But there are actually two separate arguments today about the constitutionality about affirmative action, because Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from one due to a potential conflict of interest. Justice Clarence Thomas is seeing this, right?

Conservative activist Ed Blum is challenging the race-conscious admission policies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University via his group Students for Fair Admissions. Justice Jackson attended Harvard and served for six years on its board, and she will not participate in the argument about Harvard; the arguments were previously grouped together, but today the court is hearing them separately.

Here is the C-SPAN schedule for today:


Meanwhile, Justice Thomas is married to MAGA nutcase Ginni Thomas—who said under oath to the January 6 Committee that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and badgered former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election—and he has not recused himself from any cases about said election or insurrection. As of May 2022, he hasn’t recused from any cases involving his wife’s political activism, including opposition to the Affordable Care Act. But Thomas has recused from cases involving his son’s employer or university.

Last week, Thomas raised eyebrows by temporarily blocking Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) from having to testify in front of a Georgia grand jury about President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge that state’s election results. (Thomas is assigned to emergency appeals from the circuit court that oversees Georgia.) We’ll see how he votes when the full Supreme Court considers Graham’s appeal—it’s just wild that a man whose wife played an integral role in trying to overturn election results could be an integral player in legal proceedings around the same matter, which has far-reaching consequences for democracy.

Unlike other federal judges, there is no code of ethics for Supreme Court justices. As the Washington Post explained during a previous dustup over Thomas: “Each justice can decide whether to recuse, and there is no way to appeal a Supreme Court member’s failure to do so.”

Justice Jackson appears to be an upstanding person and her recusal from the Harvard case likely won’t influence its outcome, given that she is among the three-seat liberal minority. But Thomas’ failure to recuse in cases involving the 2020 election or January 6th could alter the outcome of those decisions. And there’s currently nothing we can do about it.

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