'Crisis of public confidence’: Chief justice invited to testify before Senate Judiciary panel over ‘decade-long failure’ to fix ethics
Chief Justice John Roberts (Photo via Brendan Smialowski for AFP)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) has sent Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts a strongly-worded invitation to testify over his “decade-long failure” to fix the ethics problems he and his justices have created which have created a “crisis of public confidence,” but several Republican Senators are warning against him appearing.

Declaring that the “status quo is no longer tenable,” Chairman Durbin says in his invitation (copy below) that “there has been a steady stream of revelations regarding Justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges and, indeed, of public servants generally.”

“These problems were already apparent back in 2011,” Durbin adds, “and the Court’s decade-long failure to address them has contributed to a crisis of public confidence.”

Chairman Durbin, who reportedly has not embraced subpoenaing any of the Justices despite calls from other top Judiciary Democrats to subpoena Justice Clarence Thomas, offered to allow any other Justice to testify in the Chief Justice’s place.

“The opportunity for the American people to hear from Justices in this setting presents a moment that could strengthen faith in our public institutions. The time has come for a new public conversation on ways to restore confidence in the Court’s ethical standards.”

Durbin notes that Supreme Court Justices have testified before Congress before, but laments the last time the Chief Justice “substantially” addressed the Court’s ethics was in 2011.

On social media, Chairman Durbin wrote, “Chief Justice Roberts, I hope the American people can look forward to your testimony.” He also retweeted a Judiciary Committee tweet that blasts the “unacceptable stream of revelations of Justices falling short of ethical standards expected by the American people.”

The Chief Justice himself might be included in that list, over revelations of his wife making millions of dollars recruiting attorneys who are placed into top law firms that argue cases before the Supreme Court.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who serves on the Judiciary Committee, publicly warned the Chief Justice to decline the invitation, despite nationwide anger over bombshell credible allegations strongly alleging decades-long corruption on the part of Justice Clarence Thomas.

“I would not recommend the chief accept the invitation because it would be a circus,” Cornyn told reporters, CNN’s Manu Raju says.

And U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who just last month was formally admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee, also advised against Roberts testifying.

“I think that opens up Pandora’s box, in my view,” Graham said, NBC News’ Frank Thorp V reports. “I would be surprised if he agreed to come.” He also said, “I would support his decision not to come if that’s what he wanted to do.”