Wife of Chief Justice Roberts potential subject of ethics probe by Congress, DOJ

No longer content to malign and smear just the conservative-leaning justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, some on the political left have now expanded the scope of their attacks to also go after the spouses of Republican-appointed members of the high court.

The latest to face such partisan scrutiny is Jane Sullivan Roberts, the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, who is now the subject of demands for ethics investigations by Congress and the Justice Department, the Conservative Brief reported.

The crux of the complaint against Roberts is that the money she has made in her career as a high-level recruiter of attorneys for top law firms hasn’t been fully disclosed and could pose conflicts of interest or undue influence on cases overseen by her chief justice husband.

Ethics violations alleged against wife of chief justice

The New York Times reported this week that, ironically, Jane Roberts gave up her prior career as a high-level attorney when her husband joined the Supreme Court specifically in order to avoid the potential appearance of any conflicts of interest, and instead pursued a new career path as a high-end legal recruiter.

However, a former colleague named Kendal Price, who previously unsuccessfully sued Roberts and the law firm they both once worked for, has now sent letters and purported records to both Congress and the DOJ with a demand that an ethics probe be opened against her.

Price alleged that Roberts has earned millions in commissions from top firms, some of which have conducted business before the Supreme Court, that haven’t been fully accounted for in the chief justice’s financial disclosure reports.

Though unable to cite any specific examples, The Times noted that Price “was worried that a financial relationship with law firms arguing before the court could affect justices’ impartiality or at least give the appearance of doing so.”

In his letter, Price wrote, “I do believe that litigants in U.S. courts, and especially the Supreme Court, deserve to know if their judges’ households are receiving six-figure payments from the law firms.”

Court says all requirements have been complied with

For what it is worth, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court told The Times that Chief Justice Roberts and his wife, as well as all of the other justices and their spouses, have been “attentive to ethical constraints” and have fully complied with all disclosure requirements, the code of conduct for federal judges, and a 2009 Judicial Conference opinion which determined that judges with spouses who perform legal recruitment work are not required to recuse themselves.

As for Roberts herself, she had previously revealed that she handles all of her recruitment efforts on a “case-by-case basis” and tries to specifically avoid or refrain from engaging with matters or attorneys with active cases before the Supreme Court.

None of that is good enough for Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL), however, as he told The Times that Price’s letter raised “troubling issues that once again demonstrate the need” for Congress to legislatively impose ethics reforms to “begin the process of restoring faith in the Supreme Court.”

Other spouses targeted too

Unfortunately, this issue for Roberts isn’t entirely new, nor is she alone among Supreme Court spouses in becoming a target, according to a September 2022 report from Politico.

In addition to Roberts, vague allegations of potential impropriety and conflicts of interest have also been leveled against Jesse Barrett, the attorney husband of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and Ginni Thomas, the conservative activist wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, who are accused of hiding who their clients and associates are and how much money they’ve made behind the ethics and financial disclosure requirements of the Supreme Court.

Perhaps it is true that the actions of these Supreme Court spouses may run afoul of various ethical considerations, but given the overtly biased nature of both the DOJ and Democrat-controlled Senate, it is exceedingly difficult to take any of their complaints at face value and, more likely than not, this is merely the left’s latest attempt to discredit and marginalize the conservative-leaning high court.

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