Republican Texas billionaire could soon receive a subpoena to produce information about his relationship with conservative Supreme Court as the Judiciary Committee steps up its ethics probe into the high court.
Democratic Sens. (Ill.), who chairs the panel, and (R.I.), who heads a subcommittee on federal courts, oversight, agency action, and federal rights, on Monday announced they would hold a vote to authorize subpoenas for Crow, conservative legal activist Leonard Leo and GOP donor Robin Arkley II.
Durbin and Whitehouse said the three men “either refused to comply or offered to produce certain limited information that fell well short of what the Committee needs” when previously asked to cooperate voluntarily.
“By accepting these lavish, undisclosed gifts, the justices have enabled their wealthy benefactors and other individuals with business before the Court to gain private access to the justices while preventing public scrutiny of this conduct,” they said in a statement.
“In order to adequately address this crisis, it is imperative that we understand the full extent of how people with interests before the Court are able to use undisclosed gifts to gain private access to the justices,” the statement continued.
Leo, according to reporting by ProPublica, attended and was involved in organizing a free luxury fishing vacation for Justice Samuel Alito in 2008, while Arkley II provided complimentary lodging for the trip.
Meanwhile, Crow reportedly facilitated a real estate deal for Thomas, funded several luxury vacations for the justice, and also paid private school tuition for Thomas’s grandnephew.
While Leo and Arkley II have repeatedly refused to cooperate, Durbin and Whitehouse said Crow has only agreed to comply on “a small subset” of the committee’s requests, describing his response as “wholly inadequate.”
Crow weighed in on the subpoena vote announcement, saying: “It’s clear this is nothing more than a stunt aimed at undermining a sitting Supreme Court Justice for ideological and political purposes,” according to The Associated Press.
Chief Justice John Roberts has so far ignored calls for more oversight for justices.
“The Chief Justice could fix this problem today and adopt a binding code of conduct,” Durbin and Whitehouse said. “As long as he refuses to act, the Judiciary Committee will.”
Still, three of the justices, most recently Amy Coney Barrett, have voiced support for an ethics code for the court.
“I think it would be a good idea for us to do it, particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what it is that we’re doing in a clearer way than perhaps we have been able to do so far,” Barrett said earlier this month.
While the Judiciary Committee advanced a bill over the summer that would require justices to abide by ethics rules as well as create a process to deal with potential violations of that code of conduct, it is unlikely to pass given the GOP’s opposition to the measure.
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