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Durbin wants a vote on Supreme Court ethics legislation this month

Senate Judiciary Oversight Committee Chair Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during a hearing to examine Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related surveillance authorities, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin
Senate Judiciary Oversight Committee Chair Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during a hearing June 13, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote this month on ethics reforms for the Supreme Court.

Durbin chairs the committee. The Illinois Democrat said he's not proposing “anything radical.”

“Something that says that, for example, the nine justices on the Supreme Court should be held to the same standard as every other federal judge in America. They are not special individuals,” Durbin said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

Chief Justice John Roberts has resisted congressional involvement with the court, but has said the court is looking at ways to assure justices are held to high ethics standards. Durbin wants the panel to consider ethical standards such as mandated financial disclosure reports. Congress passed those rules for all other federal judges last year.

“They passed it and the court said, 'We’ll live by this standard.’ I thought that set the basic guidelines we needed to follow to do more, but now (Senate Republican Leader) Mitch McConnell has said we’re not going to do anything. I think that’s unacceptable.”

Durbin's push for ethics reform comes after reports that Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas went on expensive trips with prominent donors.

Durbin said the committee will hold a hearing in the coming weeks.

Durbin was in Bloomington on Thursday to meet with agriculture leaders ahead of farm bill negotiations.

Student loans

Durbin said he hopes President Biden can find another way to offer students relief from student loan debt after the Supreme Court struck down his loan forgiveness plan.

Durbin said students should not have to pay back the debt they racked up during COVID just as the government provided forgivable loans to businesses and individuals during the pandemic.

“We forgave them. They didn’t have to pay it back. It was considered good policy to give our economy a fighting chance. I think the same thing is true with students who because of their indebtedness have put their lives on hold,” Durbin said.

The Biden administration is working on a plan to use the Higher Education Actas a way to erase some student loans. Republicans have come up with their own plan that offers repayment options for students.


Durbin said the recent rebellion staged in Russia has weakened its president during a crucial time in Russia's war in Ukraine.

“I think he’s been weakened in the eyes of the world to let this (Wagner Group leader Yevgeny) Prigozhin get within 120 miles of Moscow and to have members of the military in Russia aware of what he was doing, doesn’t show the kind of iron-fisted leadership we thought Vladimir Putin exercised over Russia,” Durbin said.

Durbin said the unrest in Russia is further evidence NATO should pledge membership to Ukraine to demonstrate an organized resistance against Putin should he consider invading another country.


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is visiting China in an effort to ease tensions between the two economic leaders. NPR reports treasury officials have said they don't expect any diplomatic breakthroughs from Yellen's trip as trade restrictions continue between the two powers.

Durbin said there's still value in keeping lines of communication open.

“I’ve always supported dialogue and conversations to try and resolve differences," he said. "I don’t want a cold war with China or, God forbid, a hot war with China. And if keeping in touch and having open conversations avoids it, I support it.”

When asked whether the U.S. can believe what Chinese leaders tell them, Durbin said “trust but verify.”

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.