Fact check: Photo of Ginni Thomas with expensive wine is from 2018, not after Roe v. Wade leak

·4 min read

The claim: Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife posted a photo with expensive wine after Roe v. Wade leak

In a photo that circulated widely online, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas grins and holds up a bottle of wine while standing next to her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Some social media users, most notably the liberal political organization Occupy Democrats, are claiming the undated and unsourced image shows the pair gloating after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicated the conservative wing of the court is considering overturning Roe v. Wade.

"BREAKING: As American women despair about abortion rights being taken away from them, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni post a photo of themselves enjoying a $5,135 bottle of fancy wine," a May 5 tweet from Occupy Democrats reads. "(RETWEET) IF YOU THINK THAT THEY ARE A DISGRACE!"

More than 13,000 Twitter users shared the tweet, and it also appeared in dozens of Facebook posts in early May.

Ginni Thomas has been the subject of controversy recently amid revelations that she urged Arizona lawmakers and a Trump administration official to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on false claims of widespread voter fraud.

But this photo isn't what the text claims it is.

The photo was taken in 2018 or earlier, not in 2022, and it is unrelated to the draft opinion about abortion.

USA TODAY reached out to Occupy Democrats and other users that shared the claim for comment.

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Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, arrives to watch Amy Coney Barrett take the Constitutional Oath on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.
Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, arrives to watch Amy Coney Barrett take the Constitutional Oath on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

Photo was taken in 2018, not after 2022 draft opinion leak

According to Mediaite, the photo was posted on the Instagram page of Crystal Clanton in July 2018, tagging its location as Park City, Utah.

The photo also appeared in several online news articles in 2018, including one by the Atlanta Black Star.

The full version of the original image shows Ginni Thomas is standing beside Clanton, whom she had hired as a media assistant. The photo appeared in coverage about thedecision to hire Clanton, who left her position as second-in-command at right-wing student group Turning Point USA after racist text messages she had sent were published by the New Yorker in 2017

Whether Thomas is holding a "$5,135 bottle of fancy wine," as Occupy Democrats and other posts claimed, is difficult to tell for sure, given the quality of the image.

However, the word "Échézeaux" is visible on the label of the bottle of red wine Thomas holds. The label appears to match that of the Échézeaux Grand Cru produced by the Burgundy grower Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, according to WineSearch. On average, it sells for about $3,500, depending on the vintage and the location where it is sold, according to Vivino.

Fact check: How we know the 2020 election results were legitimate, not 'rigged' as Donald Trump claims

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Clarence Thomas and his wife posted a photo with expensive wine after the Roe v. Wade leak. This image was not posted on social media or elsewhere by the Thomases following the leak of the draft opinion. The picture in question dates back to at least 2018.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Photo of Ginni Thomas with expensive wine is from 2018

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