Schumer: Roberts has ‘not lived up to his responsibility’ as chief justice

Schumer: Roberts has ‘not lived up to his responsibility’ as chief justice

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took a shot at Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday for not doing more to police the ethics of fellow justices and ignoring Democratic requests to crack down on forum shopping among the lower courts.

“Justice Roberts has, in my opinion, not lived up to his responsibility as chief justice, on issue after issue. He’s supposed to be the guardian of the court’s fairness and opinion.”

Schumer said the chief justice has fallen short “on something near and dear to me, which is forum shopping” as well as on “ethics and recusal.”

“So Sen. Durbin and I and the Judiciary Committee are discussing the best ways to move forward,” Schumer announced, referring to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Durbin told The Hill last month that a Senate vote on Supreme Court ethics legislation must take place this year after The New York Times reported that conservative Justice Samuel Alito displayed two flags, an upside-down American flag and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag, both associated with the Jan. 6 protest movement, at his properties.

“That is a must,” he said. “It should be called. We should at least establish an ethical standard and a standard for recusal.”

Durbin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have sponsored the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act, which would require the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct and create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws.

The bill would also require full disclosure and transparency when a justice has a connection to a party with business before the court and to explain their recusal decisions to the public.

He said Thursday that the second Alito-related flag incident demands a response by Congress and insisted that Supreme Court ethics legislation should come to the Senate floor this year.

Schumer has also spoken out repeatedly against conservative activists who have used judge shopping to challenge gun safety and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a progesterone blocker used to end pregnancies.

Speaking on the Senate floor last month, Schumer said “extremists” had stalled the implementation of background check reforms “by taking their case to their favorite judge in the country in the Northern District of Texas to rubber-stamp a nationwide injunction.”

Schumer has joined Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) to sponsor the End Judge Shopping Act, which would require random assignments for cases involving broad injunctions so that litigants won’t keep on going to the same sympathetic judges to get favorable rulings.

“Former President Trump and Leader McConnell stacked the courts with MAGA judges who are striking down laws, freedoms and regulation right and left,” Schumer said in April, referring to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). “And now right-wing activists are exploiting the current makeup of the judicial system to circumvent the legislation process.”

McConnell last month called on Senate Democrats to stop attacking the Supreme Court after they demanded Alito recuse himself from Trump-related cases in light of displaying a flag that has become a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement at his Virginia home.

“We need to leave the Supreme Court alone, protect them from people who went into their neighborhoods and tried to do them harm,” he said.

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