WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), yesterday announced a vote to authorize subpoenas for Supreme Court influence-peddlers and benefactors Leonard Leo, Harlan Crow, and Robin Arkley — an important escalation of the Committee’s investigation into the full-blown corruption crisis at the high court.

The Supreme Court corruption crisis has reached a fever pitch. Justices’ countless ethics violations — from undisclosed lavish gifts to influence-peddling in elite circles — have caused public trust in the Court to plummet to record lows. Billionaires shouldn’t have the power to pull strings of our high court — and these subpoenas are a critical step toward accountability for our corrupt justices and their wealthy pals. For months, Chief Justice Roberts has refused to clean up his Court, forcing Congress to lead. Thanks to Senators Durbin’s and Whitehouse’s strong leadership, we are one step closer to ensuring that our Supreme Court answers to everyday Americans, not billionaire buddies,” said Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone.

“The Supreme Court is in an ethical crisis of its own making. Thanks to investigative reporting, we now know that for decades, some justices have been joining billionaires with business before the Court on their private planes and yachts or receiving gifts such as private school tuition for a family member. And it is through this reporting that we learned the justices have not been disclosing these gifts as required by federal laws that expressly apply to them. By accepting these lavish, undisclosed gifts, the justices have enabled their wealthy benefactors and other individuals with business before the Court to gain private access to the justices while preventing public scrutiny of this conduct,” said Senators Durbin and Whitehouse in a joint statement.

The Senators continued: “The Chief Justice could fix this problem today and adopt a binding code of conduct. As long as he refuses to act, the Judiciary Committee will.”

The news comes on the heels of a bombshell Senate Finance Committee report last week revealing that Justice Clarence Thomas failed to repay a significant portion — if not all — of the $267,230 loaned to him by wealthy benefactor Anthony Welters for his luxury R.V. Almost nine years later, the outstanding debt was forgiven and unreported — a “sweetheart deal” with damning ethical and potential tax consequences, and just the latest in a long string of serious ethics issues at the high court.

Accountable.US previously joined partners in calling on the Senate to subpoena key figures involved in the Supreme Court corruption crisis, including Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s term, Accountable.US led over 40 watchdog and accountability groups in sending a letter to Chief Justice Roberts demanding he ensure conflicted justices recuse themselves from key cases involving Leo, Crow, and other Supreme Court influence-peddlers. 

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