U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday said he would not testify at an upcoming hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that is expected to focus on judicial ethics, he said in a letter to the committee chair.
Roberts’s letter comes after the committee’s Democratic chairman, Dick Durbin, asked the chief justice to appear before the panel to address potential reforms to ethical rules governing the justices. The senator cited “a steady stream of revelations regarding justices falling short of the ethical standards.”
Roberts’ response, which was issued by a Supreme Court spokesperson, said he would “respectfully decline” the invitation, saying such appearances by chief justices were exceedingly rare given concerns about the separation of powers between the branches of U.S. government.
Durbin had earlier asked Roberts to investigate ties between Justice Clarence Thomas and a wealthy Republican donor.
Thomas, the longest-serving of the court’s nine justices, has been under pressure after published reports by news outlet ProPublica detailing his relationship with Harlan Crow, including real estate purchases and luxury travel paid for by the Dallas businessman.