Rep. AOC Files Articles of Impeachment Against Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito

Rep. AOC Files Articles of Impeachment Against Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez filed articles of impeachment against Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for what she said was their failure to report gifts and refusal to recuse from cases in which they were conflicted.

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Given the Supreme Court’s refusal to deal with the issue itself, “Congress has a legal, moral, and democratic obligation to impeach,” the New York Democrat said in a press release on Wednesday.

Progressives and others have criticized both justices over reports they accepted vacations from wealthy people and failed to recuse from cases despite conflicts they said were created by their spouses.

Read More: The Most Interesting Revelations in the Supreme Court Justices’ Financial Disclosures

The success of either resolution against arguably the court’s two most conservative justices is unlikely given Republican control of the House.

Conservatives have decried Supreme Court ethics concerns as a political ploy by the left to undo the 6-3 conservative majority that has overturned the constitutional right to abortion, undermined affirmative action and voting rights, strengthened gun rights, and weakened the power of federal regulatory agencies.

Mark Paoletta, a conservative lawyer and vocal Thomas defender, called the effort on X “Democratic lawfare against their adversaries.”

The Supreme Court didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Samuel Chase was the lone justice to be impeached by the House, in 1804. He was acquitted by the Senate.

Letters, criticism

The move to impeach Alito and Thomas follows efforts by Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats to rein in what they see as corruption on the Supreme Court, which polls show has been mired in historically low public approval ratings.

Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), wrote to Chief Justice John Roberts on June 20 urging him to investigate Thomas and Alito. Democratic senators have sent similar requests to Roberts.

Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin also introduced a bill June 25 to prohibit justices from accepting gifts of more than $50. That proposal also is likely to go nowhere.

The Supreme Court has largely thrown cold water on pressure from Capitol Hill Democrats and others to force changes in how justices conduct themselves when off the bench.

Critics say a code of conduct adopted by the justices in 2023 for the first time doesn’t go far enough to address ethics and other concerns.

Read More: A Mistake in the 1970s Still Haunts Supreme Court Ethics

“Given the court’s demonstrated inability to preserve its own legitimate conduct, it is incumbent upon Congress to contain the threat this poses to our democracy and the hundreds of millions of Americans harmed by the crisis of corruption unfurling within the court,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her statement.

Violations alleged

In her impeachment resolution that attracted more than half-a-dozen progressive cosponsors, Ocasio-Cortez revisited widely reported gaps over the years by Thomas in disclosures of trips, gifts, and other largesse.

Unreported gifts cited in the resolution include a 2019 trip to Indonesia, estimated to be valued at approximately $500,000, tuition payments for Thomas’ grandnephew amounting to more than $6,000 per month, and the 2014 sale of a family home costing $133,363.

The resolution also cites texts from Thomas’ wife, Ginni, in 2020 to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about attempts to overturn the presidential election and her attendance at the “Stop the Steal” rally Jan. 6, 2021, ahead of the Capitol riot as reasons the justice should’ve recused from election-related cases.

In failing to do so, Thomas “flagrantly” violated ethics rules, the resolution said.

The resolution seeking to oust Alito also largely centers on the activities of his wife, Martha-Ann. Alito previously stated that she flew an upside-down American flag at their Northern Virginia residence in early 2021. Though the Alito’s claim the flag was flown in response to a neighborhood dispute, critics have noted its association with the “Stop the Steal” movement.

“Justice Alito has indicated sympathy with the efforts to overturn the 2020 election by allowing symbols of support for those efforts to be flown outside his residences,” the resolution said.

Alito declined to recuse from Jan. 6 related cases, including the court’s July 1 decision suggesting broad presidential immunity for former President Donald Trump.

Impeachment resolution cosponsors included Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas).

House Republicans impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this year. The Democratic-led Senate quickly sidelined the charges against him.

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