Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is stepping down as the President and CEO of Liberty Central, a conservative organization she founded last year, according to a published report.
“She’ll take a back seat so that Liberty Central can continue with its mission without any of the distractions,” Caitlin Carroll, a spokeswoman for the group, told the Washington Post on Monday. “After discussing it with the board, Mrs. Thomas determined that it was best for the organization.”
Thomas founded the organization in November of 2009 to protect the “core founding principles” of “limited government, personal responsibility, individual liberty, free enterprise, and national security.”
She recently attracted the attention of the media after calling Anita Hill, a lawyer who accused Justice Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings, and asking for her to apologize for her testimony.
“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” said the message. “I just want to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometimes and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”
Hill refused to apologize, saying the message “was in no way conciliatory for her to begin with the presumption that I did something wrong in 1991.”
“I simply testified to the truth of my experience,” she said. “For her to say otherwise is not extending an olive branch, it’s accusatory.”
Questions have also been raised as to whether her role as head of a conservative organization could create a conflict of interest for her husband.
“It’s shocking that you would have a Supreme Court justice sitting on a case that might implicate in a very fundamental way the interests of someone who might have contributed to his wife’s organization,” Deborah L. Rhode, a law professor and director of the Stanford University Center on the Legal Profession, told the New York Times in October.
Federal law requires justices to recuse themselves in cases where there may be a potential or perceived conflict of interest, but that decision is left up to the individual justices.