Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday claimed election fraud is a threat to America, revealing in a forceful dissent some support for former President Donald Trump and Republicans who have refused to accept the result of the 2020 election.
A longtime conservative, Thomas’ legal views naturally aligned with the Trump administration. But his dissent stands out for how much it subscribed to the Trump worldview of fraud, a notion debunked by election law experts and that has failed overwhelmingly in dozens of state and federal court challenges.
“We are fortunate that many of the cases we have seen alleged only improper rule changes, not fraud. But that observation provides only small comfort,” Thomas said, dissenting as the court rejected a long-pending challenge to Pennsylvania mail-in voting procedures.
“An election free from strong evidence of systemic fraud is not alone sufficient for election confidence,” Thomas wrote.
In his 11-page dissent on Monday, Thomas referred to “fraud” 10 times and emphasized alleged flaws in ballots that arrive by mail. He said review of them may be particularly subjective, for example on the validity of signatures, and require state officials to sift through millions of ballots. Each state determines its own election procedures, for balloting in person or by mail, within the safeguards of the federal Voting Rights Act and Constitution.
“The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling,” he wrote. “By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence. Our fellow citizens deserve better and expect more of us.”
The 2020 election, occurring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, increased mail-in voting and then led to a raft of lawsuits, ending with no proof of election fraud, let alone widespread cheating that could have flipped an election result.
Defenders of Trump, who lost the November 3 presidential contest to Joe Biden, have claimed rampant fraud and a “stolen” election, without evidence.
Thomas’ wife, Ginni, was a highly visible Trump loyalist, attending numerous White House events including his 2020 victory celebration when the Senate acquitted him in the first impeachment trial. She generated recent headlines as it became known she apologized to former Thomas judicial clerks for her post-election backing of Trump and early support for the January 6 rally that turned into a deadly riot inside the US Capitol.
“Many of us are hurting, after leaving it all on the field, to preserve the best of this country,” she wrote in one post-election email.