Senator Sounds Off on Congressional Regulation of SCOTUS

Senator Sounds Off on Congressional Regulation of SCOTUS

( – Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) criticized Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s interpretation of a resolution before Congress. Legislation recently advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee that would mandate federal courts, such as the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), to implement a code of ethics. However, Alito believes that “No provision in the Constitution gives [Congress] the authority to regulate the Supreme Court – period.”

Murphy countered that “[Alito’s] seat on the Supreme Court exists only because of an act passed by Congress,” which he believes establishes the precedent that Congress does have the authority to create regulations upon the judicial branch, including the SCOTUS. He also found it “disturbing that Alito feels the need to insert himself into a congressional debate,” attempting to paint Alito as a partisan Justice.

The resolution comes as the public trust in the Supreme Court has reached a historic low of 47%. Growing skepticism of the court from Democrats and their attacks against Republican-nominated Justices has facilitated the drop. Democrats have recently slammed Justice Clarence Thomas and his association with real estate developer and GOP donor Harlan Crow, who gave Thomas numerous unreported gifts. Thomas asserted that receiving “personal hospitality from close personal friends” was acceptable and did not require disclosure under the previous gift guidelines. However, this has prompted the new push for ethics reform in the judicial branch.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) authored the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act (SCERT), and it narrowly passed through the committee in an 11-10 vote along party lines. Republican lawmakers attempted to amend the proposal. Only Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) had an amendment pass that denounced racist attacks against current and former justices. The implications of this legislation would have a supreme legislative branch with further regulatory power over the judicial system, which draws the opposition of Republicans and the support of Democrats. Due to the partisan nature of the bill, it will face difficulty in the Democratic-controlled Senate and would likely fail in the Republican-controlled House.

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