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OPINION

Dems Challenged High Court to a Battle of Wits. They Lost

united states supreme court justices

U.S. Supreme Court associate justices (L-R) Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and former justice Anthony Kennedy pay their respects to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush'as he lies in state the U.S. Capitol Rotunda December 03, 2018 in Washington, D.C.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Michael Dorstewitz By Monday, 18 December 2023 10:49 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have caved to congressional Democrats’ demands to establish a code of ethics for the justices.

But in the end Democrats were outsmarted — both by the court and the U.S. Constitution.

Over the summer Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested that if the court failed to set a written standard of ethics, they should be hauled before Congress to explain why.

She told CNN, "If Chief Justice [John] Roberts will not come before Congress for an investigation voluntarily, I believe that we should be considering subpoenas."

A few weeks later Justice Samuel Alito told Congress in a Wall Street Journal column to mind their own business.

"I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court — period," Alito told the Journal.

Zack Smith, a Heritage Foundation legal fellow, confirmed that Alito was spot-on.

"The U.S. Supreme Court . . .  is explicitly set out in the Constitution as a co-equal branch of government," he told Newsmax.

"And so if Congress were to try to legislate a code of ethics for the Supreme Court, that would be very problematic."

Besides, Congress has its own ethics issues — including insider trading, lying to America and a California Democrat who allegedly slept with a Chinese spy.

Nonetheless, Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t satisfied, and responded, "Alito’s next opinion piece in the WSJ is about to be ‘I am a little king, actually. The Constitution doesn’t explicitly say I’m not.'"

The following month she wanted the Justice Department to investigate Justice Clarence Thomas for alleged ethics violations.

"Today, we asked DOJ to investigate Thomas for violating the Ethics of Government Act of 1978," Ocasio-Cortez said on social media. "We are joined by Ranking Members [Jerrold] Nadler [of New York] & [Jamie] Raskin [of Maryland], and Judiciary Members [Ted] Lieu [of California] & Hank Johnson [of Georgia]."

There wasn’t a single lawmaker among the five of them who understood that the Justice Department is a function of the executive branch, which is also co-equal to the Supreme Court.

The court nonetheless released a nine-page document in mid-November that purported to be a code of ethics. But in reality it changed neither how the court conducts its business nor how individual justices perform their constitutional duties.

"We should put this 'code of ethics' in context," said Smith, who also manages The Heritage Foundation’s the Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy Program at their Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

"Many on the left would have us believe that the Supreme Court hasn’t been following any ethical rules before this code was adopted. But that’s just not the case," he added.

"The Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the governing body for the lower federal courts, has long had a code of ethics for federal judges that the U.S. Supreme Court justices have long been voluntarily following.

"So this idea that there isn’t a code of ethics and there hasn’t been one just isn’t true."

Smith said the court simply spelled out how it’s always been operating.

"All that the Supreme Court has really done is just formalize in some sense what they’ve been previously doing.

"Unfortunately, a lot of attacks on the court, I think, and calls for a code of ethics, isn’t really a concern about 'good government,' or 'full disclosure,' or anything like that," he said.

Still, congressional Democrats weren’t satisfied. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who has been a frequent court critic, claimed that the newly-adopted rules lack any real teeth.

"This is a long-overdue step by the justices, but a code of ethics is not binding unless there is a mechanism to investigate possible violations and enforce the rules," said the Rhode Island Democrat.

Smith explained, however, that the Constitution provides that mechanism. It’s called impeachment.

But realistically their complaints have nothing do with ethics; they’re about ideology. Ever since former President Trump changed the court’s ideological makeup it’s been under attack by Democrats.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for example, joined a crowd of protesters in front of the Supreme Court Building in March of 2020 and made what can only be called threats directed at Trump’s appointees to the high court.

"I want to tell you, Gorsuch, and want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price," Schumer shouted over a PA system as the justices heard oral arguments on a pending abortion case.

"You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."

Democrats challenged the Supreme Court to a battle of wits, but failed to arm themselves for battle.

They were outwitted by the court, and ultimately by America’s Founders.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


MichaelDorstewitz
Over the summer Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested that if the court failed to set a written standard of ethics, they should be hauled before Congress to explain why.
alito, gorsuch, kavanaugh
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Monday, 18 December 2023 10:49 AM
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