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There Is Something Interesting About the Date Durbin Is Asking to Talk to Chief Justice Roberts

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

Senate Democrats are concerned about the revelations made in a heavily criticized report from ProPublica regarding Justice Clarence Thomas' financial disclosures, which he is amending, so much so that Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) has asked Chief Justice John Roberts to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

A press release from the committee mentions that Durbin and other Democrats on the committee had sent a letter to Roberts on April 10 "urging him to take swift action to address reported conduct by Justices that is inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of public servants." The letter also "advised that the Committee would hold an upcoming hearing, and that if the Court doesn’t resolve this issue on its own, the Committee will consider legislation to resolve it," according to the press release.

That legislation is something Democratic members would likely be thrilled about, especially Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who sits on the committee and is often ranting and raving about the Court, its conservative justices, and the Federalist Society.

It's worth offering though that if Roberts fails to respond, perhaps Durbin can know how his Republican colleagues feel when members of the Biden administration are constantly ignoring their letters. 

With this more recent letter from Thursday, Durbin laments that "there has been a steady stream of revelations regarding Justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges and, indeed, of public servants generally" since Chief Justice Roberts last addressed ethical issues in his "2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary."

"The status quo is no longer tenable," Durbin's letter wrote, emphasizing a point made throughout. "The time has come for a new public conversation on ways to restore confidence in the Court’s ethical standards. I invite you to join it, and I look forward to your response," he closed with.

Durbin's letter also tried to coax Roberts by pointing to what he says is "ample precedent for sitting Justices of the Supreme Court to testify before Congress, including regarding ethics" and offering that the "opportunity for the American people to hear from Justices in this setting presents a moment that could strengthen faith in our public institutions."

Polling does show that there isn't exactly great confidence in the Supreme Court, but as Curt Levey, a constitutional law attorney and the president of the Committee for Justice, reminded Townhall last June when speaking about such polls, "the last thing we want is a Supreme Court that is looking for popular approval." Further, perhaps what "could strengthen faith in our public institutions," especially when it comes to the Supreme Court, is if Durbin's fellow Democrats would quit calling it illegitimate and even introducing legislation to pack the Court

The date in question that Durbin is asking Roberts to appear is May 2, which, as Fox News' Bill Mears pointed out, is the 1-year anniversary that someone leaked a draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, which the Court ultimately used to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Durbin had reacted to the leak the following day with a press release addressing "The Future Of Roe V. Wade," in which he said that "I don’t condone the leaking of internal Supreme Court documents… I don’t know who leaked the opinion, or why," though he of course had more to say. "But I know that today, [Americans] across this country are grappling with the very real concern, and yes, the fear, that they may lose a critical constitutional right in just a matter of weeks," he added.

The rest of the statement lamented the end of Roe at length, and even claimed that "I think we should consider the ethical implications of Supreme Court nominees repeatedly coming before this Committee and testifying under oath that they will respect precedent and then doing exactly the opposite when they are confirmed."

When it comes to Durbin pitching a fit over justices ruling a certain way to overturn a gravely wrong precedent, and claiming there are even "ethical implications" involved, it makes his most recent letter to Roberts all the more easy to dismiss. 

Another statement highlighting remarks from Durbin on the Senate floor was titled "Will We Allow Our Children To Inherit A Nation That Is Less Free Than The One Their Parents Grew Up In?" It contained only brief condemnation of the leak. 

Those same statements were shared to the Senate Judiciary Committee newsroom as well. 

The date of May 2 is almost certainly a coincidence, but it also provides an opportunity to remind how egregious the Democrats' reaction to and handling of the leak, all were, and that their clear priorities were more so on lamenting the end of Roe v. Wade. 

Countless other Democrats reacted more strongly to what the draft and ultimate decision said rather than that it had been leaked. This is even with the danger it brought to conservative justices with illegal protests and the violent targeting of pro-life organizations, including churches. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion of the Court had to leave his home, and a young man is facing federal charges for wanting to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and was going to potentially target more conservative justices. 

The lack of an urgent enough reaction even came from the White House, as made very clear by then Press Secretary Jen Psaki and the lack of responses from President Joe Biden directly. 

Biden's Department of Justice (DOJ) has also been criticized for Attorney General Merrick Garland's being slow to act on protecting the justices. Adding insult to injury has been the department's particularly aggressive targeting of pro-life activists while being particularly lenient on those who attack pro-life organizations and churches, if charges are even pursued against them at all. 

This close to a year later, and the DOJ has still not satisfied critics, as Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) another member of the committee highlighted. In fact, the more information that comes to light, the worse it looks for the department and administration overall. 

When it comes to an update on the leaker, the update is that there has been no update since the few from January. In a statement at the time, also shared to the Senate Judiciary Committee's newsroom section, Durbin reiterated his point that the leak was wrong, but still bent over backwards to emphasize his pro-abortion priorities. 

"While it is still unknown who leaked the draft opinion, we know a few truths: that the Court struck down a constitutional right in a devastating reversal of a half-century of precedent, that the American people have overwhelmingly rejected anti-abortion extremism, and that we must work to restore and codify the right to reproductive freedom," the statement read in part.

Subpoenaing justices has been discussed, but only to make clear it's ruled out. Due to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) absence, Democrats don't have enough votes to issue a subpoena, even if they were foolhardy enough to go through with it. An NBC News report from Tuesday quoted a "Democratic aide" as saying that the option was "out of the question."

Durbin himself has said he won't subpoena the justices. 

Should Roberts decide not to show up or send another justice in his place, and at least one Republican member has shared so far he doesn't think the chief justice should come, that's that. 



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