Press Releases

Alito Gets it Wrong: Congress Can and Should Check the Court

Jul 31, 2023

In a recent puff piece interview with the Wall Street Journal, Justice Samuel Alito claims that Congress has no constitutional authority to regulate the Supreme Court at all. As usual, he is completely wrong.

The Brennan Center details the long history of Congress checking the highest court, a coequal branch of government. This history, along with the Constitution’s text, provides ample evidence that negates Alito’s attempt to mislead Americans.

Background information:

  • Since 1789, justices have recited an oath written by Congress.

  • Congress sets terms for federal judges and justices to retire, and to receive compensation.

  • Since 1948, Congress has required justices to recuse themselves from cases in which their impartiality might be questioned.

  • Since 1978, Congress has required justices to disclose their financial holdings and sources of income (more transparency requirements were enacted just last year).

  • The Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution grants Congress a mandate to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution,” including ethics legislation regarding the Supreme Court.

  • Congress has the power to impeach and remove justices for bad behavior, justifying regulation to promote good behavior.

  • Congress has enacted ethics regulations that apply to the executive branch, another coequal branch of government.