In our recent caption contest, there were quite a few captions that alluded to the members of the Supreme Court being in bed with conservatives. As we reported this morning, Clarence Thomas is most definitely in bed with a conservative. Ginni Thomas is the President and CEO of the newly launched 501(c)(4), Liberty Central Inc., with the mission statement to “serve the big tent of the conservative movement.”
Since the judiciary prefers the appearance of nonpartisanship, the Los Angeles Times found her Tea Party-inspired group worth covering:
“I think the American public expects the justices to be out of politics,” said University of Texas law school professor Lucas A. “Scot” Powe, a court historian.
He said the expectations for spouses are far less clear. “I really don’t know because we’ve never seen it,” Powe said. Under judicial rules, judges must curb political activity, but a spouse is free to engage.
Of course, Justice Thomas is not the only judge to have had a spouse in a prominent political role. Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, has just stepped down from being head of the Southern California ACLU. Third Circuit Judge Jane Roth’s husband was a U.S. Senator; Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell’s husband is a governor. So I’m not sure that there’s really a judicial norm that judge’s spouses should stay out of politics, whether partisan politics, advocacy group politics, or public interest litigation (itself a form of politics, at least when done effectively).
All this talk of justices’ second halves made us think it was time for a rundown of the other Supreme spouses. The Honorable Husbands and Wives, and their careers, after the jump.
None of the other Supreme spouses are as politically engaged as Virginia Thomas.
- The Chief Spouse is an impressive lawyer herself. Jane Sullivan Roberts was formerly a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop. In 2007, she left Biglaw for the world of recruiting. She’s now a managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa, and was involved in Bob Bennett’s notable jump from Skadden to Hogan Hartson.
- Martha Alito (maiden name: Martha-Ann Bomgardner) is a former law librarian and now a sometimes emotional homemaker.
- Stephen Breyer’s wife has an honorable title herself, but hers is hereditary. He is married to Hon. Joanna Freda Hare, a psychologist and member of the British aristocracy (the youngest daughter of John Hare, 1st Viscount Blakenham).
- Georgetown Law students have gotten to spend quality time with Mr. Ruth Ginsburg. Martin Ginsburg is a tax professor at GULC. He’s also of counsel at Fried Frank.
- Justice John Paul Stevens entered One First Street with one wife but will eventually leave it with another. He was married to Elizabeth Jane Shereen from 1942 to 1979, and remarried quickly. His second wife, Maryan Mulholland Simon is a dietician, “whose ministrations Stevens credits for his longevity,” says Jeffrey Toobin in his recent New Yorker profile.
- Swing justice Anthony Kennedy married schoolteacher, Mary Davis Kennedy.
- Justice Scalia and his wife — who met on a blind date when he was at HLS and she was an undergrad at Radcliffe — had enough children to populate the Supreme Court. When Maureen Scalia (maiden name: Maureen McCarthy) has not been taking care of their brood of nine children, she has volunteered. In keeping with their Catholic faith, she is a crisis pregnancy counselor and pro-life advocate with Nurturing Network.
- Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the only single Supreme. She married her high school sweetheart, Kevin Edward Noonan, in 1976, but divorced the biologist and patent lawyer in 1983.