Republicans are denouncing Democratic senators’ attempt to leverage the Supreme Court budget in exchange for an enforceable ethics code.
During a Senate Judiciary hearing on Supreme Court ethics reform, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tore into their Democratic colleagues for “threatening to cut off the funding for the security at the Supreme Court,” as Cruz said.
“The Left is willing to threaten the lives of the justices,” said the Texas senator. “This is disgraceful.”
Hawley similarly accused Democrats of threatening the justices.
“The threat is, ‘We will deny you security, unless you do what we want. We will deny you security unless you do what we want,’” he said. “We had an assassin come to the home of Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh and try to murder him. We have had credible threats on the lives of other justices. And now members of this body say ‘We will deny you security for you, your families, your children, unless you do what we want.’”
“Extraordinary,” Hawley said, shaking his head.
The Supreme Court had just asked Congress to increase funding to help protect the justices: $5,897,000 for the “expansion of protective activities” and a separate increase of $585,000 for new IT security positions in “cybersecurity, software development, and network engineering.”
“This request would expand security activities conducted by Supreme Court Police to protect the Justices,” the protective activities request says, before specifically citing the presence of threats to the justices.
“On-going threat assessments show evolving risks that require continuous protection,” the request continues. “Additional funding would provide for contract positions, eventually transitioning to full-time employees, that will augment capabilities of the Supreme Court police force and allow it to accomplish its protective mission.”
Fifteen members of the Democratic Caucus have proposed language to be attached to next year’s Supreme Court funding bill requiring the court to adopt new processes for recusals and ethics allegations—essentially making the court answerable to Congress.
“The Supreme Court should have a code of ethics to govern the conduct of its members, and its refusal to adopt such standards has contributed to eroding public confidence in the highest court in the land,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told the Washington Post. “It is unacceptable that the Supreme Court has exempted itself from the accountability that applies to all other members of our federal courts, and I believe Congress should act to remedy this problem.”
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