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Chief Justice Roberts declines a meeting with Senate Democrats

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaks at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, in Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 19, 2014. Roberts has declined an invitation to meet with Democratic senators to talk about Supreme Court ethics and the controversy over flags that flew outside homes owned by Justice Samuel Alito.
Nati Harnik
/
AP
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaks at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, in Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 19, 2014. Roberts has declined an invitation to meet with Democratic senators to talk about Supreme Court ethics and the controversy over flags that flew outside homes owned by Justice Samuel Alito.

Chief Justice John Roberts has declined an invitation to meet with top Senate Democrats over judicial ethics, citing “separation of powers concerns.”

His letter to Sens. Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, the chair and senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, comes a day after Justice Samuel Alito declined to recuse himself from two Jan. 6-related cases despite calls to do so after news reports said politically controversial flags were flown outside Alito’s properties.

Following the revelations about Alito, Durbin and Whitehouse invited Roberts to meet with them.

“I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting,” Roberts wrote. He said that “apart from ceremonial events, only on rare occasions in our Nation’s history has a sitting Chief Justice met with legislators, even in a public setting (such as a Committee hearing) with members of both major political parties present.”

He added: “Separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence counsel against such appearances. Moreover, the format proposed – a meeting with leaders of only one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the court – simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.”

Much of the outrage directed at the court following the revelations about Alito and other justices and their ties to donors who may have matters before the court has been confined in Congress to the Democratic Party.

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