But a Durbin spokesperson told POLITICO Tuesday that Roberts declined to appear for the hearing. Durbin has previously said he plans for the hearing to proceed even if Roberts declined to appear.
“I am surprised that the Chief Justice’s recounting of existing legal standards of ethics suggests current law is adequate and ignores the obvious. The actions of one Justice, including trips on yachts and private jets, were not reported to the public. That same Justice failed to disclose the sale of properties he partly owned to a party with interests before the Supreme Court,” Durbin said in the statement.
He added: “It is time for Congress to accept its responsibility to establish an enforceable code of ethics for the Supreme Court, the only agency of our government without it.”
In a letter to Durbin explaining his reasons for declining, Roberts wrote that a chief justice’s testimony before Congress “is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence.”
Durbin, who is also the majority whip, has previously suggested the committee cannot subpoena Roberts because of the absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein , a longtime Judiciary Committee member who has been away from the Senate for months while being treated for shingles.
The ProPublica report detailed two decades of Thomas’ relationship with Crow, which included trips on Crow’s private jet and yacht, as well as visits to Crow’s lavish properties.