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An “unprecedented matter”… Congress is investigating the ethics of the United States Supreme Court


The hearing takes place at a time when the popularity of the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, is at an all-time low, with 58 percent of Americans saying it is doing its job poorly.

The Supreme Court of the United States, once considered one of the most respected institutions in the country, is facing a major controversy related in particular to the ethics of its judges, which will be considered by the Senate on Tuesday.

The hearing takes place at a time when the popularity of the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, is at an all-time low, with 58 percent of Americans saying it is doing its job poorly.

The Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee organized the hearing after a controversy involving two conservative judges, one of whom, Clarence Thomas, accepted a gift from a businessman.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, also declined to testify before Congress, citing “concerns about the separation of powers and the importance of preserving the independence of the judiciary.”

The highest US judicial body, whose primary function is to ensure the constitutionality of laws, resolves important social debates in the US including issues related to abortion, same-sex marriage, racial discrimination, the death penalty, electoral disputes, carrying arms, and so on. These judges are appointed to their posts for life and enjoy a kind of immunity.

Accordingly, they will not be present during the hearing, which begins at 10:00 am (14:00 GMT). But the list of the five witnesses called includes former federal judges – one of whom was a secretary of justice under President George W. Bush – a law professor and an ethicist.

Clarence Thomas, considered one of the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court, became the center of controversy when ProPublica revealed that he had accepted expensive gifts without announcing them, including private flights or cruises on a superyacht from Republican billionaire Harlan. Crow.

He defended himself, stressing that the rules governing the authorization of this type of trip had changed, and pointing out that Crowe did not have any pending case before the Supreme Court.

Harlan Crowe has donated more than $10 million to Republican organizations, according to ProPublica, including $500,000 to a conservative group founded by Jenny Thomas, wife of Judge Clarence Thomas.

The latter, a lobbyist, has sparked controversy for her participation in Donald Trump’s campaign to prove that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

However, Clarence Thomas is not the only judge whose behavior has been brought to light.

Fellow conservative Neil Gorsuch, soon after his appointment to the Supreme Court was confirmed in 2017, sold a large Colorado estate to the CEO of Greenberg Turing, a law firm that regularly pleads before the Supreme Court, according to Politico.

leakage and disturbances

All this controversy comes after a turbulent year for the Supreme Court.

The Court struck down constitutional protections for abortion, limited the federal government’s means to combat global warming, and strengthened the right to bear arms.

Likewise, the institution has had unprecedented leaks. Politico obtained its decision on abortion, which 15 states have been allowed to ban, before it was published.

While a parliamentary hearing on the ethics of the Supreme Court is unprecedented, it is also rare for it to be at the center of a debate involving “this many justices and this many subjects,” says Stephen Schoen, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

He adds that this also applies to historically low “levels of trust and popularity”, and undermines the image of the court, which is supposed to be “unique” and “independent”.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said in his letter, inviting the Chief Justice to testify, that “disclosures of judges who fail to respect expected ethical standards are on the rise.”

John Roberts enclosed his response to the invitation with a copy of the Supreme Court’s ethical guidelines and a statement signed by the nine justices, reiterating their “fundamental ethical principles and practices.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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