Republicans Block Senate Bill To Impose Ethics Code On Supreme Court Justices

Republicans Block Senate Bill To Impose Ethics Code On Supreme Court Justices

Senator Lindsey Graham

Democratic efforts to impose a shred of accountability on the Supreme Court failed in the Senate Wednesday when South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, joined by some of his fellow Republicans, blocked the bill as he had threatened to do on Tuesday.

“It's important that we make the effort because the American people know something has gone very wrong,” Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said in a floor speech.

The bill, which Whitehouse authored with Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin of Illinois, would require the Supreme Court to adopt a binding set of ethics rules. It’s the only court in the country without one.

This comes after months of reports of ethically dubious relationships that Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have with various billionaire GOP donors.

Durbin’s attempt to pass the bill by unanimous consent comes a day after secret recordings of both Alito and his wife were released. The Alitos’ public displays of election denial have spurred calls for ethical guardrails to be applied to the court.

Democrats held an informal roundtable on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described as a “crisis of legitimacy” on the court due to dark money corruption.

“These are the only governmental officials in the land who are not governed by a binding ethics code,” Rep. Jamie Raskin told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “There's no process by which we can hold any of them accountable.”

Ocasio-Cortez said that she and Raskin are working on legislation to ban the Supreme Court from accepting gifts of more than $50, matching ethics rules followed by Congress.

“The private corruption of the justices mirrors the public corruption of justice,” Raskin said. He pointed to recent decisions by the extremist court stripping away civil rights protections, women’s rights, and labor and consumer laws.

“So as they grow more and more removed from the experiences of the way the rest of us live,” he said, “the more they're willing to just demolish the protections the rest of us need.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that he is still considering whether to bring the bill to a regular vote.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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