Home » Senate Judiciary Chair On Serving A Subpoena To Samuel Alito: ‘It’s Not Going To Happen’

Senate Judiciary Chair On Serving A Subpoena To Samuel Alito: ‘It’s Not Going To Happen’

WASHINGTON ― Progressive groups and legal experts have increasingly demanded that Senate Democrats do more to hold Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito accountable after reports of multiple controversies and apparent ethical breaches, which include revelations that to Crow and conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo, both of whom have close ties to Supreme Court justices.

Asked specifically about progressive groups urging an even closer examination into Alito, Durbin said only, “I don’t know what they’re talking about.”

But progressives agitating for more action by Durbin were pleased by some developments this week. The Judiciary Committee released new information on Thursday, exclusively obtained through its subpoena of Crow, detailing three more private jet trips that Thomas failed to disclose.

“The report that Sen. Durbin and his committee released yesterday, which shone further light on Justice Thomas’s own seemingly never-ending ethical lapses, is exactly the type of work that is so critical to setting the stage for ensuring long-term improvements in the functioning of the judiciary,” said Maggie Jo Buchanan, managing director of Demand Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group.

“Moving forward, sustained efforts — particularly in regard to investigations and findings into the Chief Justice’s handling of such revelations and the institution he is responsible for protecting the integrity of — will be similarly important to the future of our democracy,” she said.

On Wednesday evening, Democrats also tried to bring up a bill on the Senate floor ― the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act ― that would require the nine justices to adopt a binding code of conduct. Republicans blocked it from getting a vote.

This was an entirely expected result. Republicans don’t support this bill because they don’t think it’s appropriate for the legislative branch to tell the judicial branch how to operate. Democrats brought the bill up to send a message, though: that they tried to do something, anything, to rein in the Supreme Court justices’ conduct, and the GOP shot it down.

Durbin has repeatedly said his preferred solution to addressing ethical problems with Supreme Court justices is passing this bill. But if it doesn’t have any GOP support, what’s the point of continuing to try to pass it?

“The math may not be there to do it, but the Republicans are going to be in a position of trying to explain or forgive this conduct,” he said. “I don’t think that’s easy.”

It’s not clear what Senate Democrats will do now, beyond trying to hold another floor vote on their otherwise doomed Supreme Court ethics bill. It is a presidential election year, after all, and Congress will increasingly be holding votes on bills purely for messaging purposes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) signaled Wednesday that Democrats aren’t done trying to hold Supreme Court justices accountable.

“I’ll continue to discuss with Sen. Durbin the best way to go forward,” he told reporters.


June 2024