A pair of U.S. House Democrats join the chorus calling for Alito and Thomas to resign

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, like their Senate colleagues on Tuesday, called on U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to recuse themselves from the Jan. 6 cases and for Republicans in Congress to support the adoption of an enforceable code of ethics for the entire composition.

Representatives Jamie Raskin, ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and Vice Speaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought together fellow progressive Senator Sheldon Whitehouse with experts and advocates for a roundtable discussion on the “ethical crisis” facing the nation’s Supreme Court .

Last apparitions Flags sympathetic to the “Stop the Steal” movement displayed outside Alito’s home have reignited growing concerns about conflicts of interest among judges deciding on politically divisive issues. The justices are scheduled to rule this year on, among other things, access to the abortion pill and whether former President Donald Trump will enjoy immunity from criminal charges related to, among other things, interfering in the 2020 election.

Raskin and Ocasio-Cortez delivered keen remarks in which they rebuked decades of litigation dating back to a 5-4 decision in 2000. Bush v. Gore which ultimately determined George W. Bush’s presidential victory. Lawmakers moved on to recent events, which Ocasio-Cortez described as “almost comical corruption.”

“The Supreme Court as it stands is delegitimizing itself through its conduct,” the New York Democrat continued in her opening statement. “Americans are thus losing basic rights – reproductive health care, civil liberties, voting rights, the right to organize clean air and water because the court has been hijacked and corrupted by money and extremism.”

Maryland’s Raskin said that “today’s highest court in the land has the lowest ethical standards.”

In his opening statement, Raskin characterized the court as “the judicial arm of the Republican Party,” referring to Bush’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Alito to Trump’s nominations of conservative judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

“Now this right-wing corporate court, carefully designed to destroy Roe v. Wade and marry right-wing religion with unfettered corporate power, is tearing down women’s abortion rights and contraception rights, civil rights laws, voting rights, civil liberties, environmental rights workers and consumer rights, perpetuating government power over the people and corporate power over the government,” Raskin said.

Raskin and Ocasio-Cortez’s roundtable came less than a week after progressive House Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Hank Johnson of Georgia he gathered himself with activists outside the Supreme Court calling for a change in ethics.

The same day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky sent to The Court should take whatever action it considers appropriate to reprimand members of its bar for unethical conduct. And judges should continue to ignore this persecution.”

“Keep the pressure on”

Whitehouse told Democratic members of the Oversight and Accountability Committee that Senate Democrats are shedding “an intense light on this fraud.”

The Rhode Island Democrat supported an ethics bill titled the Supreme Court Ethics, Denial and Transparency Act, which advanced withdrew from the committee along party lines in July 2023 but did not receive a majority of the votes.

“We need to keep the pressure on until they join the rest of the government and have a real code of ethics that includes real findings of fact and some perspective on how established facts are compared to principles,” Whitehouse said.

The bill was introduced following a 2023 ProPublica investigation revealing that Justice Clarence Thomas received gifts from and traveled with a major Republican donor.

Recent analysis by the watchdog group Fix, the Court found that over the last 20 years the value of gifts received and likely to be received by Thomas exceeded those of his colleagues.

Whitehouse pressed the court again in May after the New York Times. published that an upside-down U.S. flag hung outside Alito’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, just days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. The Times later revealed that another flag carried by insurrectionists flew in front of the judge’s house on the beach in New Jersey on January 6.

With Senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee in Whitehouse required meeting with Roberts to persuade Alito to recuse himself from matters related to the January 6 attack. Roberts refused, and Alito he replied senators, stating that he would not waive his right.

“Thank you to Senator Whitehouse for always flying the flag right side up,” Raskin said.

The court “will decide everything for all of us”

Kate Shaw, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told lawmakers that the court was “acting in a manner that is fundamentally inconsistent with the fundamental principles of separation of powers that are a fundamental feature of our democracy.”

“This is crystal clear now, as it is every June, as the country waits with bated breath to find out whether and how the court will upend vast swathes of American law,” she continued.

“The questions this year include whether and how the court could further limit the agency’s ability to legislate in a way that protects our health, safety and well-being” and major firearms decisions, Shaw said.

The court will also decide whether existing laws will be “used to hold accountable those accused of attacking the Capitol, including the former president,” Shaw said. “And the court says that it is him, and basically only he, who will decide all this for all of us.”

More than twenty Supreme Court opinions are expected by the end of June.

Two decisions remain pending in two Jan. 6 cases – one involving a former police officer who broke into the Capitol and is search for the withdrawal of the obstruction fee. The decision could impact hundreds of cases for the Jan. 6 defendants and the 2020 election interference case against Trump, who faces the same obstruction charge.

The court too decide whether Trump is immune from four federal criminal charges alleging that he planned to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and knowingly spread false information that prompted his supporters to riot on January 6.

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