Durbin: “This Committee is lawfully entitled to the information we have requested and that is why I have asked the Committee to authorize subpoenas with respect to this investigation”
WASHINGTON – At today’s executive business meeting, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, unveiled his intended motion to issue subpoenas to Harlan Crow, Leonard Leo, and Robin Arkley II for refusing to cooperate with information requests as part of the Committee’s Supreme Court ethics investigation.
Durbin began by outlining the repeated refusals from Crow, Leo, and Arkley: “I am not requesting this authorization lightly. Over the past several months, story after story has emerged about lavish gifts and luxury trips that Supreme Court justices have accepted and failed to disclose. For many months, the Committee has sought the voluntary cooperation of individuals and organizations who were reportedly involved in these incidents. While several have cooperated with the Committee’s investigation, Leonard Leo and Robin Arkley have outright stonewalled us … Harlan Crow initially claimed he was willing to engage with the Committee, but he ultimately refused to negotiate beyond a limited offer that was completely insufficient.”
Durbin then contrasted his legitimate request to authorize subpoenas with previous outlandish attempts by Senate Judiciary Republicans to issue subpoenas: “Republicans voted for a blanket authorization to subpoena more than 50 named persons and an unlimited number of unnamed persons when there had been no prior outreach to the vast majority of these individuals and the Justice Department was voluntarily providing responsive information to the Committee. Unlike that unprecedented authorization, in this case the Committee is only pursuing compulsory process with respect to individuals who are refusing to comply with a legitimate oversight inquiry when the Committee has exhausted its other options.”
Durbin concluded by underlining the constitutional responsibility for the Committee to conduct legitimate oversight of the judiciary, which includes this subpoena authorization: “This Committee cannot sit idly by and ignore our constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the judiciary when the American people’s confidence in the Supreme Court has fallen to record lows … Likewise, this Committee cannot allow Mr. Leo, Mr. Arkley, and Mr. Crow’s baseless arguments to thwart our constitutional authority and the Senate’s institutional prerogatives. They are not bit players in this crisis, and the information they hold is critical to understanding how individuals and groups with business before the Court gain private access to the justices. This Committee is lawfully entitled to the information we have requested and that is why I have asked the Committee to authorize subpoenas with respect to this investigation.”
For full text of the intended motion, click here. For full background on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s efforts to deliver Supreme Court ethics reform for the American people, visit this page that includes a timeline, releases, correspondence, and information on the SCERT Act.
An archived video of today’s hearing can be found here.