Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for Justice Clarence Thomas to resign

She said his vote to block the Jan. 6 committee "could serve as grounds."

March 29, 2022, 3:36 PM

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign from the nation's highest court as a growing number of Democrats demand he recuse himself from some cases following revelations that his wife urged then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to help overturn the 2020 election results.

Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called on Democrats to explore impeachment if he doesn't step down -- noting that Thomas was the lone dissenting vote on the court earlier this year to block the Jan. 6 committee from obtaining Trump White House records.

"Clarence Thomas should resign. If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment," she wrote in a tweet Monday morning.

PHOTO: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends a rally in New York City, March 27, 2022.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends a rally in New York City, March 27, 2022.
Steve Sands/NewYorkNewswire via Shutterstock

"Congress must understand that a failure to hold Clarence Thomas accountable sends a loud, dangerous signal to the full Court - Kavanaugh, Barrett, & the rest - that his acts are fair game," she added. "This is a tipping point. Inaction is a decision to erode and further delegitimize SCOTUS."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined the chorus of Democrats calling on Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6 related cases, telling reporters Tuesday afternoon that the information "raises serious questions about how close Justice Thomas and his wife were to the planning and execution of the insurrection."

Asked whether an investigation should be launched, as other Democrats have called for from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Schumer pointed to the work of the House select committee.

"The Jan. 6 committee is investigating and doing a good job and I think they will turn over every stone and we will wait to see the outcome," Schumer said.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer talks to reporters following the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 29, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer talks to reporters following the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 29, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Fellow member of the Progressive Caucus and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.., called the texts between Thomas' wife, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, and Meadows a "serious issue" that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over the Supreme Court, should investigate.

"It is deeply troubling that the wife of a Supreme Court justice appears to have been intimately involved in peddling 'The Big Lie', perhaps fanning the flames of the insurrection and being involved in issues that clearly fall before the jurisdiction of a member of the United States Supreme Court," Jeffries told reporters earlier Tuesday.

"It is my hope that it will be explored by the Judiciary Committee in terms of its areas of jurisdiction related to ethical conduct by Supreme Court justice -- because no one is above the law," he added.

PHOTO: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries speaks at a post House Democratic caucus meeting press conference, March 29, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries speaks at a post House Democratic caucus meeting press conference, March 29, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via AP

Asked if Justice Thomas should recuse himself from future Jan. 6-related cases, Jeffries said, "It's a reasonable argument to be made," adding he's would reserve further comment until he's able to review both Thomas' decisions already made around Jan. 6 and 2020 election cases and has seen the full nature of the text exchanges.

Those calls come on the heels of two dozen other congressional Democrats sending a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Thomas on Monday evening requesting the justice recuse himself in all cases related to Jan. 6 and the 2020 election. The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., also asks Roberts to create a binding code of conduct for the Supreme Court by April 28, "that includes (1) enforceable provisions to ensure that the Justices comply with this Code and (2) a requirement that all Justices issue written recusal decisions."

While it's unlikely that Thomas would resign or Democrats would have enough support to impeach him, Ocasio-Cortez and other high-profile Democrats floating the option could pressure more to pressure party leaders to take up the issue ahead of the midterms.

PHOTO: In this April 23, 2021, file photo, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
In this April 23, 2021, file photo, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Erin Schaff, Pool via Reuters, FILE

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., meanwhile, defended Thomas' ability to rule fairly on Friday during a press conference at a House GOP retreat.

"I think Justice Thomas could make his decisions like he's made...every other time. It's his decision based upon law," McCarthy said.

On Monday, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also called on Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases, telling reporters it would be "for the good of the court" and added that the committee might take action after Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the situation "a textbook case for" recusal in an interview with "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl in an interview on Sunday.

PHOTO: Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and Virginia Thomas while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation, Oct. 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and Virginia Thomas while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation, Oct. 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILE

Sources familiar with text messages sent from Thomas's wife to Meadows, which were obtained by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, confirmed their authenticity to ABC News. The content of the messages was first reported by The Washington Post and CBS News.

"Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!" Thomas wrote to Meadows on Nov. 10 after the election was officially called for Joe Biden. "You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America's constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History."

"Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs," Meadows wrote. "Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it."

ABC News' Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Benjamin Siegel, Mariam Khan and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.

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