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Democrats in Senate Expected to Subpoena Clarence Thomas Associates in Effort to Establish Ethics Rules for Supreme Court

Senate Democrats are planning to issue subpoenas for Harlan Crow, Leonard Leo, and Robin Arkley II as part of their efforts to implement an ethics code for the Supreme Court. Harlan Crow is a Republican mega-donor and a close friend of Justice Clarence Thomas, Leonard Leo is a conservative advocate and former aide to President Trump, and Robin Arkley II allegedly gifted trips to Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Durbin, will vote on whether to subpoena these individuals. The panel consists of 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans, indicating that the subpoenas may be approved in a close vote. The purpose of summoning these men is to gather information that will aid lawmakers in the creation of legislation aimed at enforcing a code of ethics on the Supreme Court. Senate Democrats have been engaging in discussions with Harlan Crow for several months regarding his financial relationship with Justice Thomas. Previously, the Democrats requested Crow to provide detailed information about his friendship and any gifts or expenses made on Justice Thomas’ behalf, to which Crow declined, citing potential conflicts related to the separation of powers. The requests for information have arisen following news articles that highlighted Justice Thomas’ connection with Crow. ProPublica reported that Crow covered private school tuition fees for Justice Thomas’ great-nephew, which may have exceeded $150,000 and were not disclosed in the justice’s financial statements. Justice Thomas has also faced scrutiny for allegedly failing to disclose luxury vacations with Crow and the purchase of his mother’s home by Crow. The Washington Post and The New York Times have also published critical pieces regarding Justice Thomas and his colleagues receiving salaries to teach courses at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee believe that Chief Justice John Roberts should implement a binding code of conduct for the Supreme Court, and until he does, the committee will pursue their efforts to establish ethics rules for the court.

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