Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declined an invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) invited Roberts to appear before the Committee’s hearing next week to answer questions about the Court’s ethics rules and potential reforms. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have recently faced scrutiny for alleged inaccuracies and omissions in their financial disclosures. “The time has come for a new public conversation on ways to restore confidence in the Court’s ethical standards,” Durbin wrote in his letter to Roberts.
- Roberts “respectfully decline[d]” Durbin’s invitation. In a letter, Roberts wrote, “Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence.” He also attached to his letter the Supreme Court’s “Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices,” which was signed by all nine justices.
- In response, Durbin pledged to hold the hearing with or without Roberts’s testimony. “Make no mistake: Supreme Court ethics reform must happen whether the Court participates in the process or not,” Durbin said.
- Meanwhile, Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan bill to require the Supreme Court to create its own code of conduct within one year.
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis said that she will announce this summer whether she will bring charges against former President Donald Trump or his allies for their alleged interference in the 2020 election.
- For the past two years, Willis’s office has conducted a probe into Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Earlier this year, a special purpose grand jury empaneled to investigate the matter concluded its work and submitted to Willis a final report. The report remains, for the most part, under seal.
- Willis raised suspicions that her office would soon bring charges when she sent target letters to 18 individuals, including Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal attorney, and David Shafer, the chair of the Georgia Republican Party. At a hearing earlier this year, Willis further raised expectations when she said that charging “decisions are imminent.”
- In a new letter to local law enforcement officials, Willis said that she will make an announcement on charges between July 11 and September 1. Willis sent the letter to inform law enforcement of the “need for heightened security and preparedness in coming months due to this pending announcement.”
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