Senate Blocks Supreme Court Ethics Bill for Now

Democrats have been increasing pressure on the Court since 2022 when it reversed Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Senate decided on June 12 not to approve a Democrat-sponsored Supreme Court ethics reform bill after the measure was put forward by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for unanimous consent.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) objected to passing the proposed Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act (SCERT) without taking a formal vote after Mr. Durbin sought the unanimous consent of senators for passage.

“Let’s be clear,” Mr. Graham said on the Senate floor. “This is not about improving the court—this is about undermining the Court.”

Mr. Graham called the bill “an unconstitutional overreach” by Democrats aimed at undermining “a Court they don’t like.”

The objection of a single senator blocks passage of a matter on a unanimous consent request, according to Senate rules.

Despite the objection, the legislative measure remains alive and could return to the Senate floor under the normal process.

Mr. Durbin, who is also Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, had said on June 11 that he had his doubts about the easy passage of the bill.

“I think I know the outcome, but we’re going to go through the exercise to make sure that both parties are in the record,” he said.

Democrats have been ratcheting up pressure on the Supreme Court since 2022 when the court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the regulation of abortion to the states.

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They have also expressed concern about conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito accepting gifts from Republican donors and not initially disclosing them.

Democrat complaints about Justice Alito have grown since it was recently reported that an American flag flew upside-down outside his residence and an American Revolution-era “Appeal to Heaven” flag was displayed at his beach house. Justice Alito said his wife flew the flags.

Democrats claim the flags indicate that Justice Alito aligns with former President Donald Trump and cannot be trusted to be impartial in his rulings.

They want the justice recused from two pending Trump-related election subversion cases the justices are currently deliberating.

One concerns whether President Trump enjoys presidential immunity for actions taken to dispute the 2020 presidential election; the other is about whether an accounting reform law may be used to prosecute people who allegedly participated in the security breach at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, during lawmakers’ efforts to certify election results.

Republican lawmakers counter that there is no evidence that the gifts influenced either justice’s conduct on the bench and say Democrats are going after the Court only because they don’t like some of the decisions it has been making.

Republicans in Congress generally defend Justice Alito but some say the flying of the flags was ill-advised.

Democrats support Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-R.I.) SCERT bill, also known as S.359, that would create a system allowing members of the public to file complaints against justices for violating a code of conduct or for engaging “in conduct that undermines the integrity” of the court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote in July 2023.

The bill would empower a panel of lower court judges to investigate complaints against the justices and order disciplinary actions.

The panel would have subpoena powers and the authority to conduct hearings and release public reports about its activities.

Rules requiring the disclosure of gifts, income, and reimbursements received by any justice or justice’s law clerk would be established.

A litigant would also be allowed to file a motion to disqualify a justice from a case, which a panel of judges would review.

The measure would compel a justice to recuse him or herself from a case when he or she knows that a party or its affiliate in a legal proceeding spent “substantial funds” supporting a justice’s confirmation by the Senate.

The duty to disqualify him or herself would also apply when a justice, his or her spouse, minor child, or a privately held entity owned by such a person received income, a gift, or reimbursement from a party or affiliate to a proceeding in a six-year period before the justice takes up the case.

The bill would also require greater disclosure by parties filing friend-of-the-court briefs, who seek to influence the court on specific cases.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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