When at least a million taxpayers stormed Washington, D.C., taking their fight against growth of big government to the front door of the U.S. Capitol last year, the explosion of patriotism inspired the wife of one of the most powerful men in the world to reignite the nation’s passion for the U.S. Constitution.
9/12: ‘Life-changing experience’
After that momentous experience, Virginia Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, founded Liberty Central, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting America’s core founding principles.
“The Sept. 12 march on Washington – when I saw all of those real, ordinary Americans march on Washington and come at their own expense – people who were there said it changed their lives,” she told WND. “That was true for me.”
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Washington march photo by Barbara Auchter
Three influential conservative women in Thomas’ life have passed away in recent years: her mother, Marjorie Lamp; Fox News commentator and lawyer Barbara Olson, who was killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001; and John Boehner chief of staff Paula Nowakowsk, who was found dead in January at her home in Alexandria, Va.
Amid personal loss and following the massive taxpayer march on Washington, Thomas, 52, a blonde with a vibrant smile and ebullient personality, said she “felt called to the front lines for our nation as President Obama was moving the country so far away from the founding principles.”
Virginia Thomas stands beside future Justice Clarence Thomas as he’s sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White in 1991.
Thomas is no stranger to politics. Her career within the Washington beltway spans 30 years. She worked as a congressional aide and legislative director for former Rep. Hal Daub, R-Neb., in the 1980s. Thomas earned a law degree from Creighton University Law School and joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a labor attorney from 1985 to 1989. She also worked as deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor and for former Republican Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, who is now chairman of the tea-party group FreedomWorks.
In 2002 during the George W. Bush administration, Thomas served as director of executive-branch relations for the Heritage Foundation, a research and educational institution that advocates limited government and individual freedom.
“I worked with the Bush White House and the conservative movement, trying to bridge those two,” she said. “It wasn’t always a happy world, but it was a good world.”
She joined Hillsdale College in 2008, helping the school set up a Washington, D.C., office and teaching the Constitution there. But she recognized an immediate crisis – a nation whose leadership was turning its back on principled government and the Constitution – and she wanted to be closer to the front lines in the battle for America.
‘The best man walking the face of this Earth’
Thomas married her husband, Clarence, in 1987, just four years before President George H.W. Bush nominated him to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacated by Thurgood Marshall.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Photo: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)
“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, is it just because she met Clarence Thomas and married him that she’s an activist,’” Thomas said. “No, I’ve been doing this for a while.”
They enjoy each other’s company – traveling to 26 states together in the Thomas family motor home. Thomas said they plan to travel to more states out West, but haven’t found the time since she’s “working 24/7 trying to lift citizens’ voices through Liberty Central.”
“I’m not a very good partner for a motor-home experience this year,” she said.
Several left-leaning mainstream-media critics, including the Los Angeles Times, have attacked Thomas for her role as an outspoken political advocate while being a spouse of a Supreme Court justice because Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states, “Outside influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment.”
But Thomas told WND the two maintain a very distinct separation between their family and professional lives.
“We were sitting in a staff meeting, and one of my staff members said, ‘Oh Ginni, there’s breaking news on Drudge, and there’s a big Supreme Court decision that’s come out 5 to 4 that your husband had a writing on,’” she recalled. “I was like, I can’t believe I’m hearing this from my staff in my home office, and I had no idea.”
As she spoke about her husband, Thomas conveyed her deep respect and love for him.
“He’s very much committed to our lives being separate professionally. He keeps a lot to himself, and I keep a lot to myself professionally,” she said. “But we have the best of times, and he’s my best friend on every other score. To me, he’s the best man walking the face of this Earth.”
Rising star among conservatives
Considered a rising star among conservatives, Thomas is now focused on her work with Liberty Central and promoting the organization’s five principles: limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise, national security and personal responsibility.
The Liberty Central website uses videos and articles to inspire and educate visitors and keep them updated on important policy issues that have a significant impact on the nation, including: cap and trade, Obamacare, the right to self-defense, federal spending and taxation, education, economic concerns and what it terms the “welfarization and capsizing of democracy.”
Several entries feature “get active” buttons that connect readers with their respective lawmakers so they may voice their concerns. In its “Civics 101” section, the website also provides excerpts of great American speeches, citations of the founding documents, book recommendations and chances to participate in grass-roots political activism. Visitors are invited to take a “Pledge to Activism,” promising to maximize their dedication to “preserving, protecting and promoting liberty, freedom and limited constitutional government in America.”
Thomas said her group plans to offer online training in partnership with the Leadership Institute so every tea-party group and concerned citizen will have free and immediate access to advocacy resources.
“Our technology is very flexible and capable,” she said. “We’ve learned from Barack Obama, and we’re using technology for the good side.”
Virginia Thomas with tea partier
Liberty Central is also making plans for candidate endorsement in the upcoming months, she said. The group has asked more than 3,000 major-party candidates in all federal races to respond to an 11-question survey. Responses will be posted on the website along with a scorecard revealing how lawmakers voted on legislation.
The following are the 11 questions listed on the survey:
1) Do you oppose government regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions?
2) Would you support repealing the Obama health-care bill, including the individual mandate?
3) Should Congress continue to use the “general welfare” clause to regulate aspects of our lives, such as agriculture and education, that are traditionally under the authority of the private sector, state and local government?
4) Do you support a “border enforcement first” policy for defending America’s borders?
5) Should we promote free-trade agreements that allow Americans to sell goods in foreign markets, even if it may cost American jobs?
6) Does the war on terror demand more of a military response or a law-enforcement response?
7) Would you pledge to return federal spending levels to the level of 2007 or earlier?
8) Did you sign the Americans for Tax Reform’s “No Tax Pledge“?
9) Are there any circumstances under which you would vote for a program similar to TARP or other federal bailouts?
10) Do you believe the government is eroding the founders’ vision of faith, family and culture and, if so, how?
11) Would you commit to solid, informed congressional oversight if you were in Washington, D.C. – not random acts of after-sight or political grandstanding? If so, give us at least two areas in which you would want to better learn and ask questions of our government to seek the effectiveness of programs, curtail the growth of the federal largesse or properly oversee the enforcement of current laws.
‘America did not buy … a very left-wing
Liberty Central is a nonpartisan “public square,” Thomas explained, and the founding principles are issues every American should embrace.
“I have put away my partisan lenses,” she said. “I think there should be a political free market. Both parties should be climbing over themselves to come to these founding principles. We don’t care if you have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ next to your name or something else.”
Thomas said she believes the federal government has grown to monstrous proportions and that it’s time for Americans to reclaim their nation.
“I call it a runaway train. This country is heading for a cliff, and I think we can put on the brakes with enough citizen activism,” she said. “Because of the citizen protests, things have slowed down quite a bit.”
She added, “You have to take solace in that fact that Barack Obama campaigned on rhetoric that was ‘hope’ and ‘change’ and was not as transparent about how far left he wanted to take us. So, that’s the good news: America did not buy – hook, line and sinker – a very left-wing government.”
The tea-party movement has “greatly inspired” her, and she calls tea partiers “America’s political first responders.”
“You don’t need everybody at the protests, but you need enough to get people’s attention who are in public office,” she said. “That is what the tea-party movement has done.”
Thomas pinpointed repeal of the “Obama health-care bill” as the “No. 1 issue for the fall.”
“We can’t get to the White House in November, but we can sure send another big signal eroding the support that President Obama and his left-wing agenda have on Capitol Hill,” she said.
She’s confident Americans can send new representation to Washington – lawmakers who will read legislation, remember founding principles and make the Constitution relevant again.
“There’s a big tsunami building in this country,” she said. “You’re not going to hear it from the mainstream media or Washington because they’re in a bubble of their own making. But you can feel it and see it across the nation.”
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