Durbin: Since The Court Has Not Acted On Ethics Reform, Congress Will
On Monday, Durbin and Senator Whitehouse announced Judiciary Committee mark up and vote on Whitehouse’s SCERT Act on Thursday, July 20
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor about the need for the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of conduct. Durbin’s remarks follow a series of articles published by the Associated Press yesterday detailing a range of ethical failures by Supreme Court Justices. The reports detailed Justices’ involvement in fundraising at colleges and universities, the use of Supreme Court staff to push sales of a book by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and donor-funded teaching positions that double as all-expenses-paid vacations.
“The Supreme Court is now on recess—at home with their families and traveling on vacation. I wish them many sunny days, but even if the sun is shining, there is still a shadow over the Supreme Court,” said Durbin. “For several months now, there’s been a steady flow of reports documenting how the members of our nation’s highest Court have failed to live up to the public trust that they have been given.”
On Monday, Durbin and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up and vote on Whitehouse’s Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act on Thursday, July 20. The bill would require Supreme Court Justices to adopt a code of conduct, create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws, improve disclosure and transparency when a Justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court, and require Justices to explain their recusal decisions to the public.
“The solution to the problems we’re seeing at the Supreme Court is a simple one. They need—like every other [federal] court in America—to adopt an enforceable code of ethics,” Durbin continued. “Every federal judge in the country is bound by a code of ethical conduct and a set of ethics rules and enforcement mechanisms except for nine—the nine Justices of the Supreme Court who sit across the street from this building.”
Durbin concluded, “Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair, will vote on theSupreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act. This bill, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, would require the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of conduct. It would also add new recusal and transparency requirements under federal law. The legislation does not distinguish between Justices appointed by a Democratic president or a Republican president. It requires a code of conduct enforceable against all Justices… I sincerely hope before that time Chief Justice Roberts will step up and accept the responsibility for his Supreme Court to establish credible standards of integrity.”
Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.
Durbin has been calling on the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of 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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