OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Democrats politicized efforts to target Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas have hit a brick wall.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) invited Chief Justice John Roberts to provide testimony regarding Thomas’ lack of disclosures for gifts and travel with a wealthy friend and GOP donor, arguing such appearances are “exceedingly rare” and that Thomas has followed current rules regarding such disclosures.
“Radical activists and left-wing publications have been ratcheting up their three-decade-long crusade to take down” Thomas, Becker News observed. “The latest iteration of this quest to take down the leading conservative on the nation’s highest court is the unearthing of records that purportedly show ethical impropriety. Thus, they have called on Thomas to resign, or more to their preference, be impeached and removed.”
But Roberts has drawn a clear line in the sand that he’s not interested in being a part of any judicial witch hunt.
“Thank you for your letter of April 20, 2023, inviting me to appear at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 2,” he said. “I must respectfully decline your invitation.”
“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. The Supreme Court Library compilation of Justices Testifying Before Congress in Matters Other Than Appropriations or Nominations has identified only two prior instances Chief Justice Taft in 1921 and Chief Justice Hughes in 1935,” he added.
“Both hearings involved routine matters of judicial administration relating to additional judgeships in the lower courts and jurisdiction over appeals from lower court injunctions. My predecessor, Chief Justice Rehnquist, appeared before House committees twice, also on mundane topics. In his first appearance, in 1989, before the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, he offered views on improvements to the federal civil service system,” the chief justice wrote.
“In 2004, he discussed the John Marshall Commemorative Coin Act at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee,” Roberts noted further. “Neither Chief Justice Burger nor Chief Justice Warren nor Chief Justice Vinson ever appeared before a Congressional committee, though Chief Justice Warren did submit a prepared statement on federal employee salary increases to the Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee in 1964. 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,” added Roberts. “In regard to the Court’s approach to ethics matters, I attach a Statement of Ethics Principles and Practices to which all of the current Members of the Supreme Court subscribe.”
Chief Justice John Roberts declined to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committe https://t.co/gzIfRkcu44
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 26, 2023
Roberts’ letter went on to point out that justices have received an increasing number of threats against their lives as left-wing rhetoric targeting their decisions has ramped up in recent years.
“A word is necessary concerning security,” the letter stated. “Judges at all levels face increased threats to personal safety. These threats are magnified with respect to Members of the Supreme Court, given the higher profile of the matters they address.
“Recent episodes confirm that such dangers are not merely hypothetical. Security issues are addressed by the Supreme Court Police, United States Marshals, state and local law enforcement, and other authorities. Matters considered here concerning issues such as travel , accommodations , and disclosure may at times have to take into account security guidance,” the letter added.
According to a recent report by ProPublica, Justice Thomas had been a companion of Harlan Crow, a wealthy supporter, on opulent excursions for almost 20 years. These trips included travels on Crow’s private plane to a secluded all-male retreat in Northern California, a holiday on his superyacht in Indonesia, and stays at his 105-acre lakeside resort in the Adirondack Mountains.
Nevertheless, Thomas did not disclose any of these trips in the financial disclosure forms that he submitted each year, but he has argued — as has Roberts — that current rules don’t require such financial disclosures.