Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing On Supreme Court Ethics Reform
Today’s hearing is the third hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee has held this year on the topic of judicial ethics
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights hearing entitled “Ensuring an Impartial Judiciary: Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023.” Today’s hearing is the third hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee has held this year on the topic of judicial ethics.
“It was February 2012 when I first sent a letter to Chief Justice Roberts calling for the Court to step up and adopt an enforceable code of ethical conduct. I’ve been pushing for this reform for more than a decade—it is long overdue. We need to restore public confidence and trust in our Supreme Court. That cannot be done when they operate in the dark and in secrecy.”
“Today’s hearing will discuss recusal transparency. We have seen interesting movement on this issue in the Supreme Court, with at least one Justice—Justice Elena Kagan. She’s now providing public explanations for her recusal decisions… the obvious question is will another justice follow suit? Will Chief Justice Roberts step in to ensure other justices do so, for transparency’s sake?”
“I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: the problem of ethics and disclosure in the Supreme Court can be cured before the end of the day by one person—Chief Justice Roberts… he has the authority and the opportunity to step in and get this done now rather than let this problem linger or even get worse… he could do it and he should.”
“A few weeks ago, Chief Justice Roberts gave a speech where he said he is, ‘committed to making certain that we as a court adhere to the highest standards of conduct.’… He should take the steps right now, before the Supreme Court takes its summer recess, to carry out the commitment he made in that speech. Let’s not have another summer of justices jetting off for luxury junkets under an inadequate set of ethics rules.”
“I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: the highest court in the land shouldn’t have the lowest ethical standards. If the Court won’t act, Congress must.”
Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.
Last month, the Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights held a hearing entitled “Review of Federal Judicial Ethics Processes at the Judicial Conference of the United States,” featuring testimony from the Honorable Mark L. Wolf, Senior U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts. Durbin’s opening statement from that hearing is available here and his questions for the witness are available here.
Earlier in May, the Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing entitled, “Supreme Court Ethics Reform.” The hearing emphasized the clear need for reform and examined common sense proposals to hold Justices to – at minimum – the same ethical standards as every other federal judge or high-ranking official in the federal government. Durbin’s opening statement from the hearing is available here and his questions for the witnesses are available here.
Durbin has been calling on the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of ethics conduct for more than a decade. He first sent a letter to the Chief Justice on this issue 11 years ago.
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