In a statement Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) slammed Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for expressing his views on a controversial bill to institute a mandatory code of conduct on the nation’s highest tribunal.
“Let’s be clear: Justice Alito is not the 101st member of the United States Senate. His intervention in Article I activity is unwise and unwelcome,” Durbin wrote.
Durbin’s comments come as a direct response to Alito, who in a recent Wall Street Journal interview criticized a new bill pushed by Durbin and his Democrat colleagues that would impose new ethics rules on the justices. “Congress did not create the Supreme Court,” Alito told the WSJ, adding that the Constitution did. “I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court — period.”
Durbin responded that Alito is “providing speculative public commentary on a bill that is still going through the legislative process. The ethical conduct of Supreme Court Justices is a serious matter within this Committee’s jurisdiction. Ensuring ethical conduct by the justices is critical to the Court’s legitimacy.
“I’ve said from the beginning of this inquiry: if the Court does not act on ethics reform, Congress will. We advanced a bill to do so last month, and we will continue our push to ensure that the highest court in America does not have the lowest ethical standards,” Durbin added.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who also sits on the committee, called the bill “dangerous” and “unserious.”
“You don’t have to be ‘Oliver Wendell Scalia’ to figure out that this legislation is meant to be a court-killing machine,” he charged. “It would allow any jackaloon out there in America in a tinfoil hat, whose own dog thinks he’s an utter nutter, to file a motion to recuse a United States Supreme Court Justice.”
“Now, what could possibly go wrong? And my Democratic colleagues know that,” Kennedy added.