Citing the long-established principles of separation of powers and judicial independence, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declined an invitation to appear before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
The jurist released a letter this week asserting his reasons for not testifying before the committee probing potential ethics reform for the high court. He or a delegated justice were requested to appear by Senate Majority Whip and Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL).
In the letter, Roberts wrote that “I must respectfully decline your invitation.”
He noted that a sitting chief justice only appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee twice in the past 102 years. He added this action is “exceedingly rare” and should be “in light of separation of powers concerns.”
JUST IN: Chief Justice John Roberts rejects Senate Democrats’ call for testimony on Supreme Court ethics https://t.co/XYBtDYBt3l
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The two instances, as Roberts observed, were on “routine matters of judicial administration.” The testimony featured Chief Justice William Howard Taft in 1921 and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in 1935.
Along with his letter to the committee, Roberts attached a “Statement of Ethics Principles and Practices” and observed that high court members already abide by this standard.
The court in 1991 voluntarily agreed to comply with the substance of the Judicial Conference’s code of conduct. Roberts described these practices as establishing “broadly worded principles that inform ethical conduct and practices” for members of the federal judiciary.
The Senate inquiry supposedly began after a ProPublica article earlier in April that highlighted alleged gifts received by Justice Clarence Thomas. The group accused the conservative judge of accepting expensive gifts and vacations from Texas Republican fundraiser Harlan Crow.
Durbin responded to the allegations by calling for the Judiciary Committee hearing. He cited the “steady stream of revelations regarding justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges.”
The Democrat said after receiving the Roberts rejection that the chief justice was ignoring “obvious” ethical breaches by refusing to appear.
Putting aside reasons cited by Democrats, it is well established that the Senate majority is outraged by recent rulings of the Supreme Court. From overturning Roe v. Wade to upholding gun rights in the landmark Bruen decision, the left would love to dismantle the current court.
Under the guise of “ethics,” Democratic senators are eager to attack the conservative majority. It bears close watching as the party attempts to discredit the majority on the bench as unethical.