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Calls have erupted for ethical conflict-of-interest rules on America’s top court after it was revealed that Ginni Thomas, wife of the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Donald Trump’s chief of staff to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Washington Post reported that it had obtained a stash of 29 text messages between Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows, then Trump’s top White House aide, which were exchanged in the tumultuous days after the November 2020 election.

In the texts, Thomas blatantly urged Meadows to do anything he could to subvert the democratic result so as to frustrate Joe Biden’s victory and keep Trump in power.

Ethics groups, members of Congress, law professors, pundits and a slew of other interested parties responded to the revelations with astonishment and concern.

The Thomas-Meadows texts were contained in a trove of 2,320 digital communications Meadows handed to the House select committee investigating the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6.

Those communications were only obtained after the supreme court ordered them transferred to Congress, rejecting claims by Trump that they were covered by executive privilege. The court forced disclosure of the material, including the Ginni Thomas texts, by a vote of 8-1 – with Clarence Thomas providing the only dissent.

Norman Ornstein, a senior emeritus fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, called the development “a scandal of immense proportions”.

Branding Ginni Thomas a “radical insurrectionist”, he said it was time for the January 6 committee to subpoena her texts and emails to see what other incriminating evidence was out there.

Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard law school, called on the justice department to investigate the apparent conspiracy between Thomas, Meadows and Trump.

“Hard to see Justice Thomas not recusing when that reaches” the supreme court, he said.

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