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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Gloria Oladipo

Lindsey Graham vows to block Democrats’ supreme court ethics bill

A man in a dark suit looks ahead
Lindsey Graham attends Trump’s primary night election party in Columbia, South Carolina, on 24 February 2024. Photograph: Alyssa Pointer/Reuters

The South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, said that he will block Democrats’ attempts to pass an ethics bill to rein in the US supreme court.

Graham told NBC News that he “will object” to the bill on Wednesday, meaning it will not move forward on its legislative journey.

The Senate judiciary committee chairman, Dick Durbin, from Illinois, told reporters that Senate Democrats were working to unanimously move the bill forward, the Hill reported. Durbin co-authored the bill with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

“We’re planning on making a move on the floor this week to move the ethics bill for the supreme court,” Durbin said.

It follows a series of scandals focusing on the rightwing justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in relation both to gifts and to their capacity to serve with political neutrality.

Durbin added that “new evidence” might emerge concerning ethics on the supreme court, elaborating that the evidence “relates to the ethical considerations from some of the justices for gifts they’ve taken and not reported”, the Hill reported.

US representatives have also criticized what they call a “crisis of legitimacy” affecting the court.

While speaking at a round table on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on Tuesday, the New York progressive representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the court has been captured and corrupted “by money and extremism”.

“A group of anti-democratic billionaires with their own ideological and economic agenda has been working one of the three co-equal branches of government,” she said.

The Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who was also at Tuesday’s round table, said: “The highest court in the land today has the lowest ethical standards.”

In recent weeks, Alito has faced calls to recuse himself from election-related cases and for a broader investigation after a flag associated in modern times with the far right was reportedly flying above one of his homes.

And Alito, along with his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, came under additional scrutiny after Alito said that one side in the US’s partisan left versus right ideology battle “has to win”, in remarks captured in a secret recording.

Martha-Ann also criticized the LGBTQ+ Pride flag, as heard in the same recording.

Thomas has repeatedly faced criticism for failing to disclose in the official record that he took lavish vacations paid for by the conservative billionaire Harlan Crow, ProPublica first reported. Thomas belatedly disclosed the luxury trips for the court record last week.

Public confidence in the court has also swiftly fallen in the last year to near record lows, according to polling from Gallup.

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