Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will block Democrats’ effort to unanimously pass Supreme Court ethics bill

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will block Democrats’ effort to unanimously pass Supreme Court ethics bill

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, plans to block an effort by Senate Democrats to unanimously pass a Supreme Court ethics bill Wednesday on the Senate floor.

“I will object,” Graham, R-S.C., told NBC News.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said earlier Tuesday that he would make a unanimous consent request to pass Supreme Court ethics legislation that the panel advanced last July.

Graham’s objection means the bill won’t be able to move forward, because any senator can block a request.

It isn’t clear whether the measure will come up for a vote under the normal process, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he’s considering it.

Even before Graham made his comments, Democrats doubted the legislation would advance. “I think I know the outcome, but we’re going to go through the exercise to make sure that both parties are in the record,” Durbin told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The Democratic-led Judiciary Committee advanced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act on a party-line vote nearly a year ago, but it can’t break a filibuster on the Senate floor without 60 votes. Democrats have 51 members, and no Republican is on board with the bill.

In a news release, Democrats said the vote follows “a myriad of apparent ethical lapses by Supreme Court justices, which demonstrate the need for ethics reform.”

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

Justice Clarence Thomas reported a pair of trips in 2019 with billionaire friend Harlan Crow to Bali and to the private Bohemian Grove club in California in his annual financial disclosure report, which was released last week. ProPublica reported on Thomas’ and other justices’ previously undisclosed lavish travel in a series of stories last year that raised questions about the court’s ethics.

The bill would give the court 180 days to adopt and publish a code of conduct, allowing the public to submit ethics complaints that would then be reviewed by a randomly selected panel of lower-court judges. It would also establish new rules for disclosing gifts and travel.

The legislation would also require justices to publicly explain any decisions to recuse from cases.

Durbin last month called on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from a pair of cases tied to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, after The New York Times reported that an upside-down American flag was displayed outside his home in the days after the riot. Alito declined to step away from those cases.

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