Senate Democrats issue subpoena in Supreme Court ethics probe

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a subpoena to a conservative legal advocate as a part of an ethics probe driven by reports of undisclosed gifts to some conservative Supreme Court justices, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

The committee sent the subpoena Thursday to Leonard Leo, the co-chair of the Federalist Society who was paramount in deciding former President Trump’s potential nominees for the nation’s highest court.

“Since July 2023, Leonard Leo has responded to the legitimate oversight requests of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a blanket refusal to cooperate,” Durbin said in a statement to Reuters. “His outright defiance left the Committee with no other choice but to move forward with compulsory process.”

The subpoena comes months after the committee voted along party lines to authorize subpoenas for both Leo and GOP mega-donor Harlan Crow after reports that Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito accepted, but did not disclose, luxury gifts and travel trips. It is unclear why multiple months passed between the November vote and the subpoena being sent.

Leo confirmed he received the subpoena, telling CNN it is “politically motivated” and “unlawful.”

He described it as the “left’s dark money effort to silence and cancel political opposition,” while stating that he is “not capitulating.”

Leo’s lawyer, David Rivkin, sent a letter to Durbin, saying his client is “not complying” with the “unlawful and politically motivated subpoena,” according to CNN.

Thomas was on lavish trips with Crow, developments that were not reported on the judge’s financial disclosure reports, as revealed in multiple articles published by ProPublica. Alito also did not report a fishing trip with Leo from 2008, according to ProPublica.

Updated April 12 at 9:25 a.m. ET

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