Supreme Court justices push back on Democratic proposal for new ethics rules

 May 1, 2023

While the Supreme Court has grown more ideologically divided in recent years, a sense of panic over a recent Democratic proposal is bringing liberal and conservative justices together.

According to ABC News, the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is considering draft legislation on ethics rules for Supreme Court justices.

Sen. Dick Durbin says "Supreme Court ethics reform must happen"

The move is being touted by Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL), who was quoted as saying in a statement that "Supreme Court ethics reform must happen whether the Court participates in the process or not."

ABC News noted that Durbin's enthusiasm has been welcomed by Gabe Roth, who serves as executive director of a left-wing organization called Fix the Court.

"Without a formal code of conduct, without a way to receive ethics complaints and without a way to investigate them, the Supreme Court has set itself apart from all other federal institutions," Roth told ABC News.

What's more, Fox News reported that Durbin called on Chief Justice John Roberts to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Chief justice cites separation of powers

Roberts refused Durbin's request and replied with a statement that was signed by all of the Supreme Court's nine justices.

"I must respectfully decline your invitation as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence," Roberts wrote.

Durbin responded with a statement of his own, saying, "I am surprised that the Chief Justice’s recounting of existing legal standards of ethics suggests current law is adequate and ignores the obvious."

"The actions of one Justice, including trips on yachts and private jets, were not reported to the public. That same Justice failed to disclose the sale of properties he partly owned to a party with interests before the Supreme Court," he continued.

Thomas denies wrongdoing

"It is time for Congress to accept its responsibility to establish an enforceable code of ethics for the Supreme Court, the only agency of our government without it," the Illinois senator insisted.

Fox News noted that Durbin previously asked Roberts to open a misconduct investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas.

That demand came following a report from the left-leaning news outlet ProPublica which accused Thomas of going on expensive vacations with Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow.

Roll Call reported that for his part, Thomas issued a statement saying, "Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable."

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