Ginni Thomas, the politically active wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was recently accused by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker and The New York Times of “agitating” on a listserv and then issuing an apology after members of the listserv complained.
The truth, according to Mark Paoletta at The Federalist, is far from what the media outlets claimed and is yet another attack on Ginni because of her husband. Paoletta, a member of the listserv in question, wrote that it is a collection of current and former clerks of Justice Thomas and was created by Ginni after a former clerk died. It was intended as a way for the “extended Thomas family” to keep in touch and update each other on their lives.
But Mayer, whose work often includes accusations with little support or that strain credulity (she is one of the authors behind the dubious Deborah Ramirez allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh), created a story in which Ginni complained to the private listserv about former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss. Her complaints, according to Mayer and the Times, disgruntled some other members of the listserv and Ginni eventually apologized.
As Paoletta tells it, what Ginni actually did was “exemplary,” but the media “distorts it beyond all recognition into something nefarious and unethical.”
Here’s what actually happened in the distorted conversation, according to Paoletta:
First, it is completely false that Ginni Thomas was “agitating about Trump’s loss.” In fact, Ginni sent an email on Dec. 19 to the listserv with a general update on life, and added, “Since early November, I have been on sabbatical from my politics and meetings, postings and all – which is new and super challenging for me, but makes sense until our national election is more resolved.”
After one clerk sent an email on Jan. 17 providing an article critical of the Jan. 6 events, Ginni Thomas sent a separate email on Jan. 18 that began with a heartfelt apology to the clerk family: “I owe you all an apology. I have likely imposed on you my lifetime passions. My passions and beliefs are likely shared with the bulk of you, but certainly not all. And sometimes the smallest matters can divide loved ones for too long. Let’s pledge to not let politics divide THIS family… what we have together supersedes any one of your politics, including mine.” Aside from this email, Ginni Thomas did not send any other emails on this listserv about Trump’s loss.
Two former clerks responded separately to the former clerk’s January 17 email that was critical of what happened on January 6, but Ginni never responded to any of these emails. Six emails were exchanged between the three former clerks before a fourth clerk asked them to move the discussion off the listserv.
After that brief diversion, the listserv returned to what it was meant to do: Provide the current and former clerks a place to keep in touch and talk about their lives and families.
As Paoletta noted, Mayer also attempted to make Ginni’s participation in the listserv appear as an ethical breach for her husband, claiming Ginni was “advocating for things directly” to the clerks, even though nearly everyone on the listserv is a former clerk of Justice Thomas’ and nearly every conversation is about their families or professional updates.