Senate Judiciary Republicans slammed Democrats’ proposed Supreme Court ethics legislation Wednesday ahead of a scheduled vote on the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act, which would require the justices to adopt a code of ethics, increase disclosure and recusal requirements and establish a process for reviewing and investigating complaints against justices. Republicans pushed back ahead of the hearing during a press conference Wednesday, arguing the legislation is rooted in Democrats’ disagreement with the decisions in certain cases.
“Democrats and their dark money, and their allies connected with their dark money, have engaged and are engaging in this campaign to threaten or pack and this effort to smear the courts,” Republican Iowa Sen. Grassley said during the press conference. “It’s about outcomes that they don’t like.”
“Think of a boxing match. If you don’t fight the first round, you can’t win the match,” said Whitehouse, according to Politico.
“Democrats and their dark money, and their allies connected with their dark money, are engaged in a campaign to smear the courts.
It’s about outcomes that they don’t like.”
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) July 19, 2023
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said it can both be true that the Supreme Court needs to address “high profile” cases of justices taking trips and that Congress needs to “stay out of the court’s business.”
“We’re gonna draw a line in the sand,” he said. “Tomorrow Republicans are going to come to this committee and protect the separation of powers when it comes to the Supreme Court … If this bill ever passed, the Supreme Court would be destroyed as we know it.” (RELATED: Most Ethics Experts Cited In ProPublica’s Reports On Conservative SCOTUS Justices Donated To Dems, Left-Wing Causes)
Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn promised to introduce the Protecting Supreme Court Justices Act Thursday in response, which she said would “[increase] the penalties on people that are trying to intimidate or threaten or assault or influence our Justices and the decisions that they make.”
Whitehouse introduced the bill amid media reports alleging ethics violations by Supreme Court justices, including trips Justice Clarence Thomas accepted from his billionaire friend and real estate developer Harlan Crow and a private jet ride Justice Samuel Alito accepted during an Alaska fishing trip with billionaire Paul Singer in 2008.
“Just about every week now, we learn something new and deeply troubling about the Justices serving on the Supreme Court—the highest court in the land in the United States—and their conduct outside the courtroom,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin said in a statement Thursday. “Let me tell you, if I or any member of the Senate failed to report an all-expense paid luxury getaway or if we used our government staff to help sell books we wrote, we’d be in big trouble.”
ProPublica, which first reported on the alleged violations of Thomas and Alito, is backed by the many of the same donors as left-wing activist groups calling for Thomas to be investigated or to resign, the Daily Caller News Foundation found through a review of tax documents.
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