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Senate committee asks Chief Justice John Roberts to testify on ethics

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin writes that "The status quo is no longer tenable" when it comes to Supreme Court ethics.
Senate committee asks Chief Justice John Roberts to testify on ethics
Posted at 2:48 PM, Apr 20, 2023

The Senate Judiciary Committee wants Chief Justice John Roberts to talk about ethics rules governing the Supreme Court at a hearing next month.

Committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin sent a letter to Roberts, asking that he or another justice he designates be available for a public hearing on May 2. The hearing will cover the court's ethics rules, and potential reforms.

Durbin notes that since 2011, the last time the court discussed ethics matters, there have been numerous ethical lapses by Supreme Court Justices, and says that the court is falling short.

Durbin writes that "the Court's decade-long failure to address [the problems] has contributed to a crisis of public confidence. The status quo is no longer tenable." 

SEE MORE: Report: Clarence Thomas sold real estate to donor, didn't report deal

The rare request follows revelations from ProPublica that Justice Clarence Thomas has spent decades accepting luxury vacations and other gifts from billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow, without disclosing any of it.

Separately, Clarence Thomas' wife Virginia was found to have communicated closely with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a Republican, in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

Lawmakers have noted "a pattern of major ethics failures" on the part of the Supreme Court, ranging from failure to disclose income to failures to recuse justices from cases involving companies in which they own stock. 

Durbin says the new hearing could help shore up public faith.

Democrats have urged the Supreme Court to open a separate investigation into Justice Thomas' conduct.

SEE MORE: Justice Clarence Thomas confirms getting lavish trips from billionaire


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