WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to approve subpoenas in Supreme Court ethics hearings for conservative activist Leonard Leo and GOP megadonor Harlan Crowe.
The subpoenas were approved by 11 Democratic senators, with no Republican senators voting. GOP members walked out of the committee room during the vote when it became clear that Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., would not allow a vote on any GOP amendments.
Afterward, Republicans argued that the subpoenas were invalid because the meeting was supposed to end at noon, but it ended two minutes later. GOP senators abstained from voting, saying the committee lacked a quorum to conduct business.
Subpoenas won’t help Democrats get the information they seek because they can’t be implemented without 60 votes on the Senate floor, and they may never reach that threshold.
Leo said in a statement: “Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are destroying the Supreme Court; now they are destroying the Senate. I will not cooperate with this illegal political vendetta campaign.”
The meeting was expected to take longer as Republicans had tabled 177 amendments, which would take hours to pass, Durbin told reporters.
“It’s going to be a s— show,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., the panel’s top Republican, told NBC News on Wednesday. “If they bring it up, we’ll get tons of fixes.”
Turpin said the GOP’s effort was intended to extend the meeting and put Democrats in a tough spot on contested votes.
The meeting turned into a partisan brawl after Democrats tried to block Republicans from debating a nominee the committee was considering before voting on the subpoenas.
After Republicans refused to allow him to speak about a judicial nomination under consideration by Turpin, the meeting became tense, saying GOP members already had two chances to speak about the individual.
“Congratulations on destroying the United States Senate Judiciary Committee,” Republicans told Durbin after Rep. John Cornyn, R-Texas, refused to vote on the subpoenas.
Sen. Turpin’s refusal to allow senators to speak about nominees will have consequences. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., warned.
Meanwhile, Durbin supported proposed subpoenas for conservative activists Harlan Crowe and Leonard Leo as part of the committee’s investigation into Supreme Court ethics.
“I am seeking subpoenas only for two individuals who have refused to comply with this committee’s oversight request for months,” he told the crowd.
ProPublica It was reported in April that Judge Clarence Thomas had accepted trips funded by Crowe, a billionaire donor. In June, the store reported Justice Samuel Alito went on an undisclosed fishing trip to Alaska in 2008 with GOP donor Robin Arkley II that was coordinated by Leo.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court accepted what it described A new code of conduct Following allegations of ethical lapses. The effect will be minimal as the judges will implement it themselves.