Lindsey Graham Claims He Will Object to Supreme Court Ethics Bill

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham last Wednesday blocked an attempt by Senator Dick Durbin to pass the Democrats’ Supreme Court ethics legislation through unanimous consent.

Durbin, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had said earlier that he would seek to pass the measure through unanimous consent after Senate Democrats used a recent media smear campaign against conservative Justice Samuel Alito to once again call for changes to the Supreme Court. 

Graham, who told NBC News earlier in the week that he would block the bill if Durbin sought to pass it through unanimous consent, stood up to object to unanimous consent, saying in remarks on the Senate floor last Wednesday that the proposed bill was not about “improving the court” but “undermining” it.

Graham described the bill, first approved by the Judiciary Committee last summer, as an unconstitutional overreach that threatened the independence of the Judicial Branch of the government.

Under Senate rules, it takes only one senator to object to unanimous consent to block a bill.

When presenting his request for unanimous consent, Senator Durbin claimed that the Supreme Court had been “embroiled in an ethical crisis” of its own making since last year.

Durbin described the so-called “ethics crisis,” manufactured by the media, as “unacceptable” and “unworthy” of the Supreme Court and claimed that the Supreme Court justices were the only federal officials not bound by a code of conduct.

The bill, first introduced by Rhode Island Democrat Senator Sheldon White House last year, would require the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct and come up with a mechanism to investigate alleged ethics violations. It would also require the Court to enact harsher rules for disclosing income, travel, or gifts received by both the justices and their clerks.

With unanimous consent off the table, the measure is unlikely to pass the Senate since Republican senators strongly oppose the legislation and would not help Democrats secure the 60 votes necessary to move the bill to a vote.

Democrat Reps. Jamie Rankin of Maryland and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said last week that they planned to introduce similar legislation in the Republican-controlled House.