Senate Judiciary Committee Jousts Over Supreme Court Ethics Rules

( – Senate Democrats want to pass new ethics rules for the Supreme Court in light of Justice Clarence Thomas being critiqued for luxury travel plans and a business deal with someone who gave money to the Republican party. Republicans are contesting the rule change as a partisan covert attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the court in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.

Sen. Dick Durban (D-IL) is the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, he believes that the SCOTUS is in need of an ethics overhaul, and blames the court for its failure to do so itself. As a result, he maintains Congress has a duty to act.

Republicans, however, disagree and pointed out that the attacks on Clarence Thomas unfairly target him because he’s a conservative member of the court. His reputation for being a conservative is well-known, and many consider him the most conservative member of the nine Justice panel, suggesting that partisan politics is the ulterior motive for these urgent demands for reform.

The elephant in the room is last year’s tidal overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has thrown Democrats into hysterics ever since. An early leak of the decision inspired daily protests outside some of the Justices’ homes, and one man even turned himself in after admitting he was plotting an assassination attempt against Brett Kavanaugh and other Justices.

Ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) suggested the issue was “well beyond ethics,” and that Democrats are attempting to sully the court’s reputation and legitimacy. He added that further attempts to ostracize the court puts individual Justices’ safety at risk.

The outcry resulted from the disclosure that Thomas sold three properties to Harlan Crow, a Dallas-area billionaire. Crow was also responsible for gifting vacations to Thomas and his wife over the past few decades with an estimated total value of several hundred thousand dollars. The court wanted Thomas to testify before the committee, which he declined, citing the need to maintain judicial independence. The court also published its rules regarding ethics, travel, gifts, and outside income with a freshly signed statement reaffirming their established practices.

New legislation on this matter is unlikely to pass, even if a bill results from these hearings. We shall see.

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