Press Release

Welch Statement on Judiciary Committee Vote to Authorize Subpoenas Relating to Supreme Court Ethics Investigation

Nov 30, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting today, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action and Federal Rights, voted to authorize issuing subpoenas to Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo, regarding the committee’s investigation into ethical concerns impacting Members of the United States Supreme Court. 

“Repeatedly, the American public’s trust in the Supreme Court has been undermined by allegations of ethical and financial misconduct,” said Sen. Welch. “Today’s subpoenas are a crucial step in our investigation as we work to rebuild trust in our legal system. I will continue to advocate for measures that ensure accountability across our justice system.” 

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Welch continues to push for transparency and ethics reform within the U.S. Supreme Court. Following the Supreme Court’s adoption of a Code of Conduct earlier this month, Sen. Welch called for further information about the Code, stating that our work is not done until we have assured the American public that there is a transparent and enforceable system in place to prevent future ethical violations. 

This month, Sen. Welch took to the Senate Floor to highlight the erosion of trust in the integrity of the Supreme Court, and how it hurts the public’s trust in our democracy and the judicial system. He also argued for the importance of authorizing subpoenas for Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo in this ethics investigation. Watch his full remarks here: 

Senator Welch is a co-sponsor of the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023, which the Judiciary Committee advanced this summer with unanimous Democratic support. The bill’s introduction followed numerous reported instances of ethical misconduct by Justice Clarence Thomas by multiple news publications. The legislation requires the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct, establish a mechanism to investigate breaches of that code, recuse themselves when they have conflicts of interest in cases, and disclose gifts and income, among other provisions. 

Senator Welch has a long history of expressing concerns about reports relating to potential ethics violations by Justices of the Supreme Court, including joining 45 of his then-House colleagues in an October 2011 letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging the investigation of outstanding ethical questions surrounding the court.