In a stunning show of solidarity, every single Supreme Court justice signed a letter in response to baseless attacks on fellow Justice Clarence Thomas by Democratic lawmakers. The letter, which was released on Tuesday, rebuked the Senate Judiciary Committee for its attempts to impose new ethics rules and oversight on the Supreme Court, which is an independent and co-equal branch of government.
The letter came after Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the chairman of the committee, sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts on April 20, asking him to testify before the committee about the court’s ethical standards. Durbin also expressed concern about alleged ethics violations by Justice Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch, who were accused of receiving unreported gifts and financial earnings from conservative donors and organizations.
Justice Thomas has denied any wrongdoing and said he followed all the disclosure requirements. Critics of Durbin’s proposal have argued that it is a politically motivated witch hunt that targets conservative justices for their views and associations.
The Supreme Court justices, in their unanimous letter, defended their ethical principles and practices, and explained how they consult various authorities and sources to address specific issues. They also emphasized that they voluntarily adhere to a general code of conduct, but rejected the idea of having an external body supervise or enforce their ethics.
“The Judicial Conference, which binds lower courts, does not supervise the Supreme Court,” the justices wrote. “The Constitution vests the judicial power in one Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may establish. The Constitution does not vest any other branch with authority over the Supreme Court.”
The justices also pointed out that they have a strong tradition of collegiality and respect for each other, regardless of their ideological differences. They said they value “the contributions that each Justice makes to the work of the Court” and “the importance of maintaining public confidence in the Court as an institution.”
The letter was a rare and powerful statement from the Supreme Court, which usually operates behind closed doors and avoids public controversies. It was also a clear message to the Democrats that they will not tolerate any interference or intimidation from Congress.
As a conservative reporter, I applaud the Supreme Court justices for standing up for their independence and integrity, and for defending one of their own from unjustified attacks. Justice Thomas is a brilliant jurist and a role model for millions of Americans who admire his courage and conviction. He deserves respect and appreciation, not slander and harassment.