Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ image takes a hit
But Americans are not convinced when it comes to Thomas. And that seems to be reflected in the drop in overall opinions of him.
Thomas has generally been a popular judge, and he was even viewed favorably by a roughly 2-to-1 ratio in a tough confirmation fight in 1991 that featured sexual harassment allegations from Anita Hill. Marquette University Law School polls showed he remained in positive territory through mid-2021.
But by September last year, he had taken a negative turn. And today, unfavorable opinions for Thomas (36%) exceed favorable opinions (25%) by double digits.
That 11-point Net Negative Image rating means he falls below judge Brett M. Kavanaugh — previously the least popular judge — for the first time. And the 18-point drop he’s seen on that metric since 2021 is bigger than any judge’s, including Roberts (11-point drop), Amy Coney Barrett (nine-point drop) and the author of the annulling decision deer, Samuel A. Alito Jr. (down nine points). Sonia Sotomayor’s popularity has also dropped by 11 points, but she remains the most popular judge.
The drop in Thomas’s number appears to coincide with key revelations.
It was in March 2022 that we learned that Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, exchanged text messages with Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, about the election cancellation. of 2020. While she has long been active in the conservative political movement, Clarence Thomas has refused to recuse herself from a case in which the court allowed the House Jan. 6 committee to receive communications from the White House . He was the only judge to dissent.
A poll the following month showed Americans saying 52% to 39% that Thomas should recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election. Even 28% of Republicans agreed.
A Brief Chronology of Clarence Thomas’ Ethical Issues
Equally problematic are the latest revelations about Thomas’ relationship with wealthy GOP donor Harlan Crow; we learned that Crow had paid for a lavish vacation for Thomas (estimated at half a million dollars), for his mother’s house, for his great-nephew’s tuition and for Ginni Thomas’ political group . The revelations began in early April. In the Marquette polls, Thomas went from three points underwater to 11 points underwater.
Other polls also suggest Americans — including a sizable portion of Republicans — view Thomas’ actions with suspicion. A YouGov poll conducted for The Economist last month showed that Americans disapproved of Thomas taking the trips and not disclosing them by a margin of more than 2 to 1. Republicans were actually more likely to disapprove than approve. Americans said they thought Thomas broke the law, 43% versus 28%, with 24% of Republicans agreeing.
And a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed two-thirds of Americans said Congress should investigate Thomas.
None of this means that Thomas is suddenly an outcast. But to the extent that Roberts wants to restore the court’s confidence, it’s pretty clear what could be one of the biggest hurdles.