Durbin Receives Response To April 10th Letter To Chief Justice Roberts On Supreme Court Ethical Standards

Response refers matter to Judicial Conference Committee; Durbin: if the Court doesn’t act, Congress must

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after receiving a response to an April 10th letter he and other Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic members sent to Chief Justice John Roberts urging the Chief Justice to investigate ProPublicareports that Justice Clarence Thomas accepted and failed to disclose 20 years’ worth of lavish gifts and luxury travel from prominent Republican donor Harlan Crow.  The April 10th letter urged the Chief Justice to take swift action to address reported conduct by Justices that is inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of public servants.  

The response letter was addressed to Chair Durbin from the Secretary of the Judicial Conference of the United States and states that the Senators’ April 10th letter was referred to the Judicial Conference and forwarded to the Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure.  The full letter can be found here.  

“At this point, the Chief Justice has not responded to my invitation for him to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 2.  It is becoming clear that such an appearance by the Chief Justice may be the only way for the Court to set out with clarity any meaningful and credible reform.  As our April 10th letter stated, if the Court does not address shortcomings in its ethical standards, Congress must,” Durbin said.

The April 10th letter noted that as far back as 2012, Judiciary Committee Democrats had written the Chief Justice urging that the Court adopt a resolution binding the Justices to the same Code of Conduct that binds all other federal judges.  The letter advised that the Committee would hold an upcoming hearing, and that if the Court doesn’t resolve this issue on its own, the Committee will consider legislation to resolve it. 

Durbin invited Chief Justice John Roberts, or another Justice whom he designates, to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 2, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. to testify at a public hearing regarding Supreme Court ethics reform.