Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Thursday asked Chief Justice John Roberts testify on May 2 about ethics rules that govern the Supreme Court, as controversy continues to swirl around Justice Clarence Thomas' trips he took with a GOP mega-donor.
"I invite you, or another Justice whom you designate, to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 2, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building to testify at a public hearing regarding the ethical rules that govern the Justices of the Supreme Court and potential reforms to those rules," Durbin said in a letter to Roberts on Thursday.
"In extending this invitation, I offer that the scope of your testimony can be limited to these subjects, and that you would not be expected to answer questions from Senators regarding any other matters," Durbin said.
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Durbin asked Roberts this month to open an investigation into Thomas over what Democrats say is his "misconduct" that was detailed in a ProPublica report.
The liberal news outlet's report accused Thomas of improperly receiving lavish vacations from Republican mega donor Harlan Crow, which reportedly included taking trips across the world on Crow's yacht and private jet without disclosing them.
Expert have dismissed the ProPublica report as political hit piece and explained that justices are permitted to accept invites to properties of friends for dinner or vacations without paying for it or disclosing it.
Thomas released a rare statement following the report saying that he has consistently followed ethics guidelines.
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"Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends, and we have been friends for over twenty-five years," Thomas said.
"As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them. Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable," Thomas said.
"I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines," he said. "These guidelines are now being changed, as the committee of the Judicial Conference responsible for financial disclosure for the entire federal judiciary just this past month announced new guidance. And, it is, of course, my intent to follow this guidance in the future."
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Durbin told Roberts Thursday that "there has been a steady stream of revelations regarding Justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges and, indeed, of public servants generally."
"These problems were already apparent back in 2011, and the Court’s decade-long failure to address them has contributed to a crisis of public confidence. The status quo is no longer tenable," Durbin said.
Durbin added that "there is ample precedent for sitting Justices of the Supreme Court to testify before Congress, including regarding ethics. Durbin says the Judiciary Committee most recently heard testimony from sitting Justices in October 2011, and that hearing "included robust exchanges about the Court’s approach to ethics matters."
Fox News Digital's Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.