Statement from FTC executive director Gabe Roth following news that Ginni Thomas is lobbying the President:
Supreme Court spouses have the same First Amendment rights, including the right to petition the government, as anyone else. But at a time in which the public’s faith in our federal courts is declining, it may be wise for justices and their families to avoid activities, like private meetings with the president, that could impugn the judiciary’s integrity.
Over the years justices have of course been friendly with those running the executive branch. In fact, some just-released Justice Kavanaugh e-mails show that in 2001 he was in charge of securing the attendance of Justices Kennedy, Scalia and O’Connor at the White House’s celebration of Irish Americans.
President Johnson and Justice Abe Fortas regularly broke bread together, and Vice President Cheney and Justice Scalia were hunting buddies.
Nevertheless, if Chief Justice Roberts wants to create a legacy of disinterested stewardship, he should do more to dissuade his colleagues from participating in activities that to the average citizen appear improper.
FTC has similarly been critical of Justices Ginsburg and Gorsuch when their deeds have impugned the judiciary’s integrity (though Gorsuch had a decent excuse, since he agreed to the speaking engagement before he knew it’d be at Trump Hotel).