Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), a leading member of the House Oversight Committee and constitutional scholar, has made a bold call for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from upcoming cases concerning Donald Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 election ballots. This request stems from a conflict of interest tied to Thomas’s wife’s involvement in the events of January 6, 2021.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Raskin underscored the clear conflict arising from Thomas’s wife’s participation in the so-called “big lie” and the events leading up to the Capitol insurrection. Raskin’s assertion is straightforward: Given these ties, Thomas’s involvement in cases concerning Trump’s eligibility would be inappropriate. He posed the critical question of what steps could be taken if Thomas chooses not to recuse himself.
The backdrop of this controversy includes recent decisions by Maine and Colorado, both invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This section suggests that anyone who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. should not be allowed to hold office. Both states have removed Trump from their primary ballots, with the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision now appealed to the Supreme Court.
Raskin, leveraging his expertise in constitutional law, noted that conservative legal scholars themselves have compellingly argued against Trump’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment. The upcoming Supreme Court decision will be a critical test for the Court’s textualists and constitutionalists, challenging them to uphold their professed values.
The issue of presidential immunity is also at stake, with Trump facing federal charges related to the Capitol riot. While a conviction isn’t necessary under the Constitution for disqualification, the 14th Amendment’s implications are clear. Thomas has already faced calls to recuse himself from another related high-profile case involving Trump’s claim of immunity for actions taken while in office.
Raskin, a key figure in Trump’s second impeachment inquiry, firmly countered Trump’s claim of immunity. He emphasized the unconstitutionality and un-American nature of the argument that a president could commit crimes with impunity while in office. The Constitution explicitly allows for criminal prosecution of a president, even post-impeachment, contradicting the idea of absolute presidential immunity.
This situation raises significant questions about the integrity of the judicial process and the role of personal biases in legal decisions. Raskin’s call for Thomas’s recusal is not just about one case; it’s a matter of preserving the fundamental principles of justice and impartiality in America’s highest court. As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s handling of these pivotal cases, the spotlight is on the justices to act by the values they are sworn to uphold.