The Democratic plan to subpoena two Supreme Court justices and some of their allies is facing strong pushback from both sides of the aisle. The move, proposed by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), would open up a window into the personal and political dynamics of the Supreme Court.
The intent of Harris’ proposal was to investigate whether the justices had conflicts of interest that could have corrupted their legal decisions. She proposed that Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch’s financial disclosure documents, emails, and other records be subject to subpoenas in order to gain a better understanding of the elections those justices have ruled on, as well as the rulings that could have been impacted by a conflict of interest.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle have raised concerns about the proposal. Republican Senator Ted Cruz (TX) warned that it could “fundamentally threaten the independence of the judiciary.” And Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) argued that the plan would be harmful to the principle of judicial independence.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court itself has made it clear it does not approve of the idea. The court released a statement saying that such a move would undermine the public’s confidence in the Court. Chief Justice Roberts was quoted as indicating that “a move like this would be a clear breach of the separation of powers and could create serious long-term consequences for the Court’s integrity.”
In the end, the proposal is unlikely to pass Congress, as Republicans still hold a slim majority. And while pushback from either side of the aisle could derail the plan, Harris has vowed to continue the fight. The Democratic senator has stated, “It’s clear that the Supreme Court justices must be held accountable to the people they serve,” and she believes subpoenas sent to the justices are the best way to do that.
At this point, however, it’s uncertain what the future holds for Senator Harris’ plan. But no matter the outcome, the fact that it is being taken seriously shows that the idea of greater transparency and accountability will continue to be a priority of Democratic lawmakers.