The Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Monday it will vote on subpoenas for Harlan Crow and Robin Arkley II — both wealthy Republican donors — and conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo, who have been tied to controversial luxury trips involving Supreme Court justices.
“The Supreme Court is in an ethical crisis of its own making,” Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wrote in a joint statement on Monday. “…In order to adequately address this crisis, it is imperative that we understand the full extent of how people with interests before the Court are able to use undisclosed gifts to gain private access to the justices.”
Durbin and Whitehouse claimed Crow, Leo and Arkley have either refused to comply with the committee’s inquiries or have offered information that is “well short” of what the Committee is looking for.
“Due to Crow, Leo and Arkley’s intransigence, the Committee is now forced to seek compulsory process to obtain the information they hold,” the committee’s statement wrote. “Therefore, Chair Durbin will be asking the Committee to grant him authorization to issue subpoenas to these individuals.”
The subpoenas would mark a major step in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the Supreme Court in the wake of multiple alleged ethical controversies surrounding Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Durbin said Chief Justice John Roberts “could fix this problem today and adopt a binding code of conduct.”
“As long as he [Roberts] refuses to act, the Judiciary Committee will,” Durbin wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Documents made public in August showed Thomas accepted three trips from Crow last year, two of which were to Dallas and one to the the Adirondacks in New York, which appears to be Crow’s private lakeside resort.
Thomas’s financial disclosure statement released in August also included information about a 2014 real estate transaction with Crow, who bought three properties from Thomas and his family in Savannah, Ga. in 2014.
ProPublica first publicized the transaction and trips earlier this year.
In his latest scandal, Senate Democrats led by Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), claimed in a memo that Thomas did not pay back a “significant portion” of a loan used to purchase a luxury motor coach. A lawyer for Thomas disputed Wyden’s memo, claiming the statement is inaccurate.
Leo and Arkley separately came under scrutiny by the Judiciary Committee earlier this year following a different ProPublica report about Alito’s undisclosed fishing trip to Alaska in 2008 with Paul Singer, a billionaire hedge fund owner who later had cases in the court.
The ProPublica report claimed Leo helped organize the trip and asked if he and Alito could travel on Singer’s jet. Leo and Alito stayed for three nights at the Grand Salmon Lodge, paid for by Arkley, who owns the lodge.
Both Arkley and Singer were major donors to Leo’s political groups, according to ProPublica.
Democratic lawmakers requested information from Leo in July on the 2008 fishing trip. Leo dismissed the request, claiming it exceeds the committee’s investigative authority vested in the Constitution.
As part of its push for ethics reform, the committee advanced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act, which would require justices to adopt a code of conduct and establish a transparent process for members of the public to submit ethics complaints against members of the court.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
This story originally Appeared on The Hill