Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham highlighted multiple instances of what he claimed was bias against conservative Supreme Court justices during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, arguing that the hearing was a partisan attempt to “destroy the legitimacy” of the Supreme Court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court ethics was initially prompted by a ProPublica report alleging that Justice Clarence Thomas violated ethics rules by not disclosing expense-paid vacations he took with his friend Harlan Crow, a billionaire real estate developer. During the hearing, Graham said that liberal-leaning justices have taken ethically questionable actions in their own lives, but have never received the same level of condemnation from Democrats that Thomas received.
In 1998, then-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg donated a signed copy of her decision in the United States v. Virginia case—which found the Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy unconstitutional—to an auction for the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense Fund. Graham questioned what would have happened if conservative Justice Samuel Alito donated a signed copy of his Dobb’s decision—which returned the power to make abortion laws to the states— to Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
“All hell would break loose in this country,” he said. “Why didn’t all hell break loose in 1998?…I think we all know the answer to that.”
Ginsburg also received an award from the Woman’s National Democratic Club in 2010, Graham said. “Can you imagine what would happen if [Chief] Justice Roberts received the award from a Republican women’s club?” he asked. “I think you may read more about it.”
Graham noted that he is not opposed to all conversations about crafting new ethics rules for the Supreme Court, but said he would not be voting for any of the bills on the table because of the Democrats agenda to “destroy the legitimacy” of the conservative- led Supreme Court.
“If you have any ideas or recommendations about how the court could be more transparent, count me in, that makes perfect sense to me,” Graham said. “But when you look at the history, the way things have happened with the court, when a liberal justice does something the reaction in the American media is completely different.”
Other liberal justices have also engaged in some of the same activities conservative justices are being criticized for, multiple Republican senators claimed during the hearing. For example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson noted on her nominee financial disclosure that she had “inadvertently omitted” from previous filings consulting income her spouse “periodically receives from consulting on medical malpractice cases.”
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