This extraordinary profile of Clarence and Ginni Thomas—he a Supreme Court justice, she among other things an avid supporter of the January 6 insurrection—is a masterclass in everything from mustering archival material to writing the hell out of a story:
There is a certain rapport that cannot be manufactured. “They go on morning runs,” reports a 1991 piece in the Washington Post. “They take after-dinner walks. Neighbors say you can see them in the evening talking, walking up the hill. Hand in hand.” Thirty years later, Virginia Thomas, pining for the overthrow of the federal government in texts to the president’s chief of staff, refers, heartwarmingly, to Clarence Thomas as “my best friend.” (“That’s what I call him, and he is my best friend,” she later told the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.) In the cramped corridors of a roving RV, they summer together. They take, together, lavish trips funded by an activist billionaire and fail, together, to report the gift. Bonnie and Clyde were performing intimacy; every line crossed was its own profession of love. Refusing to recuse oneself and then objecting, alone among nine justices, to the revelation of potentially incriminating documents regarding a coup in which a spouse is implicated is many things, and one of those things is romantic.
“Every year it gets better,” Ginni told a gathering of Turning Point USA–oriented youths in 2016. “He put me on a pedestal in a way I didn’t know was possible.” Clarence had recently gifted her a Pandora charm bracelet. “It has like everything I love,” she said, “all these love things and knots and ropes and things about our faith and things about our home and things about the country. But my favorite is there’s a little pixie, like I’m kind of a pixie to him, kind of a troublemaker.”
A pixie. A troublemaker. It is impossible, once you fully imagine this bracelet bestowed upon the former Virginia Lamp on the 28th anniversary of her marriage to Clarence Thomas, this pixie-and-presumably-American-flag-bedecked trinket, to see it as anything but crucial to understanding the current chaotic state of the American project. Here is a piece of jewelry in which symbols for love and battle are literally intertwined. Here is a story about the way legitimate racial grievance and determined white ignorance can reinforce one another, tending toward an extremism capable, in this case, of discrediting an entire branch of government. No one can unlock the mysteries of the human heart, but the external record is clear: Clarence and Ginni Thomas have, for decades, sustained the happiest marriage in the American Republic, gleeful in the face of condemnation, thrilling to the revelry of wanton corruption, untroubled by the burdens of biological children or adherence to legal statute. Here is how they do it.