Sheldon Whitehouse, a senator, said that Congress can “absolutely” reform Supreme Court Ethics Rules, despite arguments that Congressional intervention would violate the separation of powers set out in the Constitution.
Whitehouse (D-R.I.), said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, that pushing ethics reforms through Congress would be “not easy.” But it wouldn’t need the Chief Justice John Roberts’ support.
The chief justice must make the decision, but, right? Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chuck Todd, asked Whitehouse about the separation of powers. “I mean, I think it’s pretty clear that Congress cannot make a law to do that, right?”
Whitehouse responded, “Yes, absolutely,” pointing out that the ethics law at the heart of the controversy over Clarence Thomas failing to disclose gifts received while on the court was a law Congress adopted.
Whitehouse told reporters on Sunday that the Congress has no say in a court case brought by the judicial branch. Whitehouse said, “But when it comes to regulating the ethics of the judiciary branch — heck, even the judicial conferences that do this are a creation by Congress.”
In recent months, the ethics rules that govern the Supreme Court, its justices, and their judges have been scrutinized after a ProPublica article in April revealed Thomas’ lavish trips with Harlan Crow – a Texas billionaire in real estate. More reports have been published since then that reveal other gifts Thomas failed to disclose.