UPDATE: Joan McCarter
The committee abruptly adjourned Thursday morning without voting on the subpoenas. Republicans on the committee promised, in Sen. Lindsey Graham’s words, a “shit show” in the committee if they moved forward. That included a Republican amendment to subpoena Justice Sonia Sotomayor. No word yet on when the committee will reconvene.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Thursday to vote on issuing subpoenas to billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow and conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo, the men who have been central to recent media reports of lavish gifts, real estate deals, and luxury travel enjoyed by Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. The committee will demand a list of all transportation, lodging, gifts, and access to private clubs provided to any justice.
A third initial subpoena target, Robin Arkley II, decided he didn’t want to get caught up in that mess and finally coughed up the information the committee had been asking for. Arkley owned the fancy remote fishing lodge in Alaska where Alito was wined and dined by hedge fund manager and Republican megadonor Paul Singer. “Mr. Arkley provided information responsive to the Committee’s requests,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin said in a statement Wednesday. “Given his cooperation, I’ve decided that voting to authorize a subpoena to Mr. Arkley is not necessary at this time.”
As for the other two? “Leonard Leo has refused to cooperate in any way. Harlan Crow claimed he was willing to cooperate, but ultimately made only a limited and insufficient offer,” Durbin said. “The Senate and the American people deserve to know the full extent of how billionaires and activists with interests before the Court use their immense wealth to buy private access to the justices,” he continued. “That is why, tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee will vote to authorize subpoenas to Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo. The highest court in the land cannot have the lowest ethical standards.”
Durbin reiterated the necessity for the subpoenas in a floor statement Tuesday. “I do not make this decision lightly,” he said. “Seeking authorization to issue subpoenas is a relatively rare occurrence in the Committee. Over the last several months, it’s become clear that the Supreme Court is in desperate need of a binding code of ethics as we learn of lavish gifts and luxury travel that certain Supreme Court justices have accepted from a gaggle of fawning billionaires.”
“The fact that we have to go to this length is unacceptable, but necessary,” Durbin continued. “The vote is a critical step in the Committee’s exercise of its constitutional right and duty to conduct oversight of the federal judiciary. It is critical to the Committee’s effort to restore the Court’s reputation. The highest court in the land should not have the lowest standard of ethics.”
Senate Republicans are predictably livid at the idea that this information is key to enforcing ethics on the Supreme Court. They’re seemingly hostile to the very idea that Supreme Court justices shouldn’t be made available to whichever rich person and/or partisan activist wants to access them via fancy gifts and trips.
That won’t stop the committee from issuing the subpoenas because Democrats have the majority, but they could filibuster the full Senate enforcing the subpoenas when Crow and Leo (inevitably) continue to refuse to cooperate. That’s ultimately a self-defeating position for Republicans, essentially signing off on what sure looks like corruption in the highest court in the land.
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The band is back together, and it is a glorious day as Markos and Kerry’s hot takes over the past year came true—again! Republicans continue to lose at the ballot box and we are here for it!