Politics

Dick Durbin thinks “there’s a lot more” that Judiciary subpoenas could reveal on SCOTUS connections to GOP activists and donors

Dick Durbin was reluctant to get to this point with the Supreme Court.

As the Senate Judiciary chair continued to read more and more reports about justices accepting gifts, and his more polite efforts were stymied, he believed his hand was forced.

And now he expects a trio of subpoenas of conservative GOP donors and activists to yield critical information about the full extent of their connections to conservative Supreme Court justices.

“I’m sorry to say, I think there’s a lot more there,” Durbin (D-Ill.) said in an interview on Tuesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote as soon as Nov. 9 to authorize subpoenas for information from conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo, Texas billionaire Harlan Crow and conservative donor Robin Arkley II. All have been linked to funding lavish gifts, real estate deals and luxury travel for conservative justices on the court.

Durbin and other Democrats on the panel said that they are confident that they will be united in committee for the subpoena vote. They need just a simple majority to move forward, and the appointment of Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) restored the party’s edge on the critical panel.

Republicans do not have the votes to block the subpoenas in committee. Instead, they can only pan the Judiciary pursuit as politically motivated overreach into the judicial branch.

“It’s a bad idea,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday. “I think it’s got all kinds of constitutional issues, and I’m very disappointed to see that we’re gonna go there.”

“I think many of my Democratic colleagues do not like the recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court and therefore want to undermine the United States Supreme Court,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Tuesday.

Durbin said he did not necessarily want to escalate the panel’s inquiry to a point of compelling the three donors and activists, but that the time and resources devoted to chasing information from them was mounting. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called the information the panel has been able to obtain “totally inadequate.”

“It was in desperation that we came to the subpoenas,” Durbin said, citing negotiations for “weeks, almost months” to get what he called “piecemeal” information.

The relationship between Justice Clarence Thomas and Crow and Robin Arkley and Justice Samuel Alito have come under intense scrutiny since a series of reports from ProPublica that detailed lavish gifts and luxury travel that Thomas received from Crow, plus favorable real estate transactions and gifts that Thomas did not include in his annual financial disclosures. Arkley took Alito on a fishing trip to Alaska, which Alito did not disclose.

Lawmakers already sought an itemized list of gifts and a full accounting of lodging and transport that Crow has provided to the justice and his wife, Ginni Thomas.

The justices are facing pressure from Democratic lawmakers, led by Judiciary Democrats, to implement an ethics policy that specifically applies to the nine justices of the highest court. The party passed an ethics bill through committee, though it will not be able to clear a filibuster on the Senate floor.

And Democrats are staying coy about what comes next after the subpoenas go out.

“We do our work without ruling out any options,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

Dick Durbin was reluctant to get to this point with the Supreme Court.
As the Senate Judiciary chair continued to read more and more reports about justices accepting gifts, and his more polite efforts were stymied, he believed his hand was forced.
And now he expects a trio of subpoenas of conservative GOP donors and activists to yield critical information about the full extent of their connections to conservative Supreme Court justices.
“I’m sorry to say, I think there’s a lot more there,” Durbin (D-Ill.) said in an interview on Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote as soon as Nov. 9 to authorize subpoenas for information from conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo, Texas billionaire Harlan Crow and conservative donor Robin Arkley II. All have been linked to funding lavish gifts, real estate deals and luxury travel for conservative justices on the court.
Durbin and other Democrats on the panel said that they are confident that they will be united in committee for the subpoena vote. They need just a simple majority to move forward, and the appointment of Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) restored the party’s edge on the critical panel.
Republicans do not have the votes to block the subpoenas in committee. Instead, they can only pan the Judiciary pursuit as politically motivated overreach into the judicial branch.
“It’s a bad idea,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday. “I think it’s got all kinds of constitutional issues, and I’m very disappointed to see that we’re gonna go there.”
“I think many of my Democratic colleagues do not like the recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court and therefore want to undermine the United States Supreme Court,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Tuesday.
Durbin said he did not necessarily want to escalate the panel’s inquiry to a point of compelling the three donors and activists, but that the time and resources devoted to chasing information from them was mounting. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called the information the panel has been able to obtain “totally inadequate.”
“It was in desperation that we came to the subpoenas,” Durbin said, citing negotiations for “weeks, almost months” to get what he called “piecemeal” information.
The relationship between Justice Clarence Thomas and Crow and Robin Arkley and Justice Samuel Alito have come under intense scrutiny since a series of reports from ProPublica that detailed lavish gifts and luxury travel that Thomas received from Crow, plus favorable real estate transactions and gifts that Thomas did not include in his annual financial disclosures. Arkley took Alito on a fishing trip to Alaska, which Alito did not disclose.
Lawmakers already sought an itemized list of gifts and a full accounting of lodging and transport that Crow has provided to the justice and his wife, Ginni Thomas.
The justices are facing pressure from Democratic lawmakers, led by Judiciary Democrats, to implement an ethics policy that specifically applies to the nine justices of the highest court. The party passed an ethics bill through committee, though it will not be able to clear a filibuster on the Senate floor.
And Democrats are staying coy about what comes next after the subpoenas go out.
“We do our work without ruling out any options,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.  

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