UNITED STATES NEWS

Senate Democrats authorize subpoenas in the Supreme Court ethics probe. GOP won’t back enforcement

Nov 30, 2023, 11:05 AM

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen at near sunset in Washington, on Oct. 18, 2018. Democrats on ...

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen at near sunset in Washington, on Oct. 18, 2018. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to authorize subpoenas for two prominent conservatives who arranged luxury travel and other benefits for Supreme Court justices, but Republicans planned to object to the legitimacy of the action. The panel’s Democratic chairman, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, pushed through the vote in the meeting's final moments Thursday after Republicans walked out of the meeting. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to authorize subpoenas for two prominent conservatives who arranged luxury travel and other benefits for Supreme Court justices, but Republicans challenged the legitimacy of the move and pledged to withhold support for enforcing the legal order.

The committee chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., pushed through the vote in the meeting’s final moments after Republicans had walked out in protest. The vote from the 11 Democrats would authorize subpoenas for Republican megadonor Harlan Crow and conservative activist Leonard Leo. But without bipartisan backing, the subpoenas probably will not be enforced because that would take 60 votes in the closely divided Senate.

During a contentious committee meeting, Republicans tried to delay the vote before Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee’s top Republican, invoked a rule to limit the session to two hours. Nonetheless, Durbin proceeded with a vote to authorize subpoenas.

“They think we’re gonna roll over and come back sometime later and try all over again and face the same limitations,” Durbin said. “There reaches a point where there has to be a vote. They walked out on it. That’s their decision.”

Graham, R-S.C., said later he was ready to “move on” from challenging whether committee rules were followed, but added that ultimately the subpoenas would not be enforced. Leo and Crow issued statements saying the authorization of the subpoenas was not valid.

Crow’s office said Crow was willing to engage with the committee, but that Democrats so far “have made intrusive demands of a private citizen that far exceed any reasonable standard and to this date have not explained why this request is necessary to craft legislation.”

Leo, a longtime executive with the conservative Federalist Society who has orchestrated a push to move the court and the rest of the judiciary to the right, said in a statement, “I will not cooperate with this unlawful campaign of political retribution.”

Crow has had both a close personal and financial relationship with Justice Clarence Thomas for more than two decades. Crow paid for nearly annual vacations for Thomas and bought from Thomas and others the Georgia home in which the justice’s mother still lives. He also paid for the private schooling for a Thomas relative.

Democrats are investigating the ethics of the Supreme Court’s justices and are seeking information from Leo and Crow on the gifts and trips they gave to Supreme Court justices. Durbin said Leo and Crow have not cooperated with the committee’s requests for more information.

“Both Leonard Leo and Harlan Crow are central players in this crisis,” Durbin said. “Their attempts to thwart legitimate oversight efforts of Congress should concern all of us.”

The high court this month adopted its first code of ethics after facing criticism for the gifts and luxury trips that some justices received from wealthy benefactors. But Democrats pointed out that the ethics code lacks enforcement and allows the justices to police themselves. It “falls far short of what we would expect from the highest court in the land,” Durbin said.

The committee has advanced legislation to impose a separate ethics code on the court.

During Thursday’s hearing, senators at times rehashed years-old grievances over the tactics used to control a committee that has been central in the political fight over judicial oversight. Republicans, angry at Durbin’s attempt to forge ahead on the subpoena vote, threatened that any bipartisan cooperation on the committee would be destroyed.

When Durbin limited debate on separate judicial nominees to prevent Republicans from delaying the subpoena vote, GOP senators threatened retribution.

“You are going to have a lot of consequences coming if you go down this road,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

The committee had previously planned to subpoena another wealthy Republican donor, Robin Arkley II, who arranged and paid for a private jet trip to Alaska for Justice Samuel Alito in 2008. Durbin dropped that subpoena after Arkley provided information the committee was seeking.

United States News

Associated Press

With trash bins now required in NYC, only the rats are sorry to see the garbage piles go

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s tradition of piling garbage bags on the sidewalk for pickup is going the way of the dinosaur. As of Friday, all 200,000 businesses in the Big Apple are required to put out their bags of trash in garbage bins, as communities across the county and world have long […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Authorities search for father and 2 young children in New Hampshire after mother found dead

MEREDITH, N.H. (AP) — Authorities were searching Friday for a father and his two young children after the children’s mother was found dead in a New Hampshire apartment. Authorities issed an Amber Alert just after 4 a.m. for the abduction of 4-year-old Elowyn Duren and 1-year-old Vaelyn Duren from the city of Berlin. Authorities said […]

2 hours ago

A "vote here" sign sits outside a Phoenix polling place in 2022....

Associated Press

Judge rules Arizona’s new voting laws requiring proof of citizenship aren’t discriminatory

An Arizona district judge has ruled state legislators didn't discriminate when passing new voting laws that require proof of citizenship.

4 hours ago

FILE - Phill Cady holds a sign during a "Take Our Border Back" rally on Feb. 3, 2024, in Quemado, T...

Associated Press

Russian disinformation is about immigration. The real aim is to undercut Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — For Vladimir Putin, victory in Ukraine may run through Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. In recent weeks, Russian state media and online accounts tied to the Kremlin have spread and amplified misleading and incendiary content about U.S. immigration and border security. The campaign seems crafted to stoke outrage and polarization before the 2024 […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Defendant Kevin Monahan, left, listens to opening statements in his murder trial, Jan. 11, 2...

Associated Press

Man to be sentenced for murdering a woman who was mistakenly driven up his rural New York driveway

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (AP) — A man who fatally shot a 20-year-old woman in an SUV that was mistakenly driven up his rural driveway in upstate New York is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Kevin Monahan, 66, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death last April of Kaylin Gillis. Gillis was riding in a […]

11 hours ago

David and Stephanie Joiner pose by part of an artwork, called Greenwood Pond: Double Site, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Artists outraged by removal of groundbreaking work along Des Moines pond

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines arts organization is preparing to rip out a groundbreaking artwork that lines a pond in a historic city park, surprising the New York artist who created the work decades ago and leading to an outpouring of opposition by other artists and local residents. The decision to remove […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Senate Democrats authorize subpoenas in the Supreme Court ethics probe. GOP won’t back enforcement