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Chief Justice John Roberts Formally Declines Dick Durbin's Request

Chief Justice John Roberts has officially declined Chairman Dick Durbin's (D-IL) request that he appear or designate someone to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding ethics concerns that Democrats have with the U.S. Supreme Court. The letter was sent last Friday, in light of a heavily criticized report from ProPublica regarding Justice Clarence Thomas' financial disclosures, which he is amending. A letter from April 10 also discussed ethics concerns. 

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After indicating that "I must respectfully decline your invitation," the chief justice went on to remind Durbin just how obscure his request was. "Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence."

Towards the close of his letter, Roberts illustrated the separation of powers even further. "Congressional testimony from the head of the Executive Branch is likewise infrequent. According to the United States Senate website, no President has ever testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and only three Presidents (in 1862, 1919, and 1974) have testified before any Congressional committee." Roberts also indicated that he had attached a statement of ethics that the current justices subscribe to. 

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In other words, Dick Durbin and Senate Judiciary Democrats should stay in their lane. 

This official response comes after Durbin appeared on NBC News' "Meet the Press" where he discussed with host Chuck Todd as to if what he had heard back so far was an official response. Durbin had not considered it to be as such, and had still been holding onto hope that he would receive a response.

Democrats will forge ahead with an ethics code for the Court it looks like, but that was always to be expected of them, least of all because Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is frequently ranting and raving about the Court, is also on the committee. 

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Durbin had already shared that a subpoena is not on the table. Such a move is especially out of the question since Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is still absent and Republicans blocked a move for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to name Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) as her replacement. 

"Chief Justice Roberts" and "John Roberts" have been trending on Twitter in reaction to this development. 

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