A bill from Senate Democrats to be marked up in committee Thursday would destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, a group of Republican senators said at a Wednesday press conference.
Six GOP lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee spoke about how the Supreme Court “ethics” bill drawn up by Democrats on their committee would be toxic to the country.
The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act was authored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. On top of imposing many additional financial disclosure requirements for Supreme Court justices, it would allow any individual to file unlimited complaints against them.
That means anyone can file a complaint under existing law that states that “any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
According to Heritage Foundation legal expert Thomas Jipping, “the bill provides no guidelines, definitions, or criteria for these complaints. They can be as simple or as detailed as the filers choose. But every single one of them must be referred to a ‘judicial investigation panel, which shall be composed of a panel of 5 judges selected randomly from among the chief judges of each circuit of the United States.’” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said that the Democrats’ bill is “fundamentally, constitutionally flawed, and I think should make every American afraid.”
He noted that “the Supreme Court was founded by the Constitution of the United States” and that the Senate Democrats’ attempt to control the court was a violation of the separation of powers.
The South Carolina lawmaker said that he and other Republicans would defend the separation of powers from attacks on the Supreme Court.
He said that the move to put more justices on the Supreme Court to get decisions supporters of the bill want would “destroy the independent judiciary.”
It would be the end of the judiciary as we know it, Graham lamented.
“The effort to destroy the court in the eyes of the public is one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen since I got here,” the South Carolina senator said.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that by employing a widespread “dark money” campaign, the Left is trying to damage the reputation of the Supreme Court because they aren’t getting rulings they like.
He likewise called the efforts an “affront to the separation of powers.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, explained that the Bill of Rights was insufficient to protect liberty in America. He said the structural nature of American institutions — which includes the separation of powers — is a greater barrier to tyranny than a list of rights.
“What protects our rights here is the rule of law,” Cruz said.
He said that what we are seeing from the Left is a large-scale effort to delegitimize the Supreme Court, and that they simply want the judicial system to rubber-stamp their views.
Standing in the way of the Left’s schemes is the Supreme Court, the Texas lawmaker said.
The Left’s base is calling for the destruction of the Supreme Court, Cruz said, and he pointed to the attempt last year by a gunman to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh shortly after the pre-release leak of the high court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This bill is dead as fried chicken,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who blasted the Democrats’ Supreme Court legislation as a reckless attempt to damage the functioning of the Supreme Court.
Kennedy said that the notion of having a single complaint shutting down a vote in the Senate would “paralyze” the body.
The same thing applies to the Supreme Court, he added. Were the Senate Democrats’ bill to become law, there would be a deluge of complaints aimed at shutting down the court’s process.
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