Democrats in the Senate have announced the next step in their ethics investigation of the U.S. Supreme Court, which was prompted after investigative reports found some justices enjoyed benefits that some suggested could have influenced their decisions on cases.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin announced on X, formerly Twitter, that he was seeking the ability to subpoena Harlan Crow, Leonard Leo and Robin Arkley II as the investigation moves into its ‘next step.’ Crow and Arkley are wealthy Republican donors, and Leo is an activist that has also been tied to gifts given to Supreme Court justices.
‘The Supreme Court is in an ethical crisis of its own making,’ Durbin, D-Ill., said on Monday. ‘In order to adequately address this crisis, it is imperative that we understand the full extent of how people with interests before the Court are able to use undisclosed gifts to gain private access to the justices.’
‘The inquiries the Committee has sent to Harlan Crow, Leonard Leo, and Robin Arkley are critical to this work,’ the Democrat continued.
In the statement, Durbin claimed Crow, Arkley, and Leo have ‘either refused to comply or offered to produce certain limited information that fell well short of what the Committee needs and to which it is entitled.’
The Senate Judiciary Committee was then ‘forced to seek compulsory process’ to obtain additional information, Durbin said.
The Democrat credited the current Senate investigations with reports over the spring and summer that revealed some Supreme Court justices enjoyed gifts that were not publicly disclosed.
‘Thanks to investigative reporting, we now know that for decades, some justices have been joining billionaires with business before the Court on their private planes and yachts or receiving gifts such as private school tuition for a family member,’ Durbin said. ‘And it is through this reporting that we learned the justices have not been disclosing these gifts as required by federal laws that expressly apply to them.’
‘By accepting these lavish, undisclosed gifts, the justices have enabled their wealthy benefactors and other individuals with business before the Court to gain private access to the justices while preventing public scrutiny of this conduct,’ the Democrat continued.
Documents revealed over the summer showed Crow paid for trips and bought property from Justices Clarence Thomas while Leo and Arkley organized and paid for a trip for Justice Samuel Alito.
He also took a swipe at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, saying he ‘could fix this problem today and adopt a binding code of conduct.’
Roberts has been a frequent target of criticism and Democrats have demanded he investigate his fellow justices.
‘As long as he refuses to act, the Judiciary Committee will,’ Durbin concluded.
Some Republicans have decried the Supreme Court investigations as efforts to delegitimize the court, cast doubt on its rulings or to allow President Biden to potentially replace justices on the bench.