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When silence is more than golden
Jun. 13, 2022 8:00 am, Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 2:57 pm
Here is today’s quiz. What are the first names of the spouses of Supreme Court justices now on the Bench? OK, time is up.
Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know them. I don’t know anybody who does. Court spouses ordinarily stay out of the spotlight, maintain anonymity by design, confine their personal views on public issues to whispers in their bedrooms. To be a court spouse is to be invisible and to take a self-administered oath of public silence.
I am aware of only one exception. Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni, has been in the news as her efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election are documented. Her emails to Arizona officials urging them to ignore the vote and name electors friendly to Donald Trump was so wild that even they, Republicans, who undoubtedly voted for Trump, refused. They understood what escaped her. Facts matter; party affiliation does not.
Her intervention was beyond inappropriate. Election issues might well have come before the court. As a Supreme Court spouse, she ought to have chosen to remain silent. Justices stay free of any involvement in politics, and so do their families. She was already talking “voting fraud” when, even if it were there, would not have yet have been documented
The quick use of the term “widespread fraud” intrigues me as an old campaign hack and ghost. In every major campaign I have worked in, if there was a chance my candidate might lose, you prepare a draft of a concession statement. The candidate may not read it carefully, but well enough to know what is in it. The words of a draft were written before votes were cast or counted.
Confirming “widespread fraud” takes more time than Ginni had before her first email. The Washington Post reported that Ginni (she can call me Norm, if we meet) “pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory and choose “a clean slate of Electors.”
Ginni Thomas went looking for alternate facts. Getting a Rudy Giuliani to mouth the fiction is part of the process. The wife of a Supreme Court Justice should not be.
For you and me and Ginni, how can we know when there has been fraudulent voting? It takes time. You would look for numbers that were odd. A large Democratic majority where there shouldn’t be one. Fewer Republican votes than expected. If there are no widespread anomalies, there is no reason to believe there was fraud.
Here’s more from the Post:
“The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud.” The presumption that she knows better than experienced Republican officeholders is astounding.
Does any of this matter? I think so. The importance of integrity of the court is beyond partisanship. I may not like the present court, but it must be held to as high standards as possible. We should all be offended by what’s her name.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary, and authored a memoir “From Nowhere to Somewhere.”
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