An online petition calling for the removal of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has garnered more than 1 million signatures.
The petition, titled “Impeach Justice Clarence Thomas,” was created on the website of the left-wing public advocacy organization MoveOn.org three months ago.
“Justice Clarence Thomas must resign from the Supreme Court immediately or else be impeached,” the petition reads.
Given the timing of the first signatures it appears that the initial reason the petition was created had to do with Thomas’s position on whether former President Donald Trump should be compelled to turn over documents to the January 6 House Select Committee, which was investigating Trump’s role in fomenting the Capitol riots, which Democrats insist was an attempt to use violence to illegally seize power and overturn the results of a legitimate election.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the documents should have been turned over because they are vital to investigators, reports Newsweek. Trump appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which refused to take up the case or issue an injunction to stay the lower court’s ruling earlier this year. However, Thomas was the sole dissenter, saying he would have granted Trump’s request to block the ruling.
The petition also states concerns over Thomas’s impartiality, on the grounds that his wife, longtime conservative activist Ginni Thomas, was allegedly actively urging the Trump White House to overturn the results of the 2020 election ahead of and after the January 6 Capitol riots.
“Thomas’ failure to recuse himself warrants immediate investigation and heightened alarm,” the petition states. “And it’s only the latest in a long history of conflicts of interest in the service of a right-wing agenda and mixing his powerful role with his conservative political activism. He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife’s coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court. He must resign — or Congress must immediately investigate and impeach.”
However, since the decision on the Trump documents earlier this year, social issues — particularly those to which Thomas is hostile — have taken a front seat. In May, a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade — and with it, federally-protected abortion rights — was leaked to the press, prompting outcry from Democrats and supporters of reproductive freedom. By the end of June, the court officially issued its opinion overturning Roe, with Thomas among the five justices who voted to overturn the longstanding legal precedent.
“The right-wing rigged Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, effectively taking away the right to privacy and bodily autonomy that’s been considered legal precedent for the past 50 years,” the MoveOn petition reads.
It also notes that Thomas issued a concurring opinion calling on the nation’s highest court to re-examine all cases dealing with rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, including the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling, which allowed married couples to buy and use contraception without government interference; the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling overturning state anti-sodomy laws criminalizing homosexuality and same-sex relations; and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which overturned state bans on same-sex marriage. The petition authors say that those views are potentially dangerous for the future fare of all decisions involving privacy and bodily autonomy.
The petition has garnered more than 1.1 million signatures, the bulk of which were added within the past week.
Students at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., created a similar petition calling for Thomas to be removed from an honorary teaching position as an adjunct instructor at the college, citing the court’s decision in Roe. But school officials rejected the petition’s demands, saying Thomas had not violated the school’s policy on academic freedom, reports The Hill.
“Just as we affirm our commitment to academic freedom, we affirm the right of all members of our community to voice their opinions and contribute to the critical discussion that is foundational to our academic mission,” university officials wrote in a letter responding to the student-led petition.
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