As members of the U.S. Supreme Court continue to face scrutiny over possible ethical transgressions, a justice said this week that she supports implementing a code of ethics. ethics for the High Court.
Speaking at an event at the University of Minnesota on Monday, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett said she favors the idea of a code of ethics.
“I think it would be a good idea for us to do that, particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what we are doing in a clearer way than perhaps we have been able to do so far “Barrett said. .
Barrett added that she could not say when the court would impose such a set of rules, or what a future code of conduct might look like.
“All nine justices are very committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct,” Barrett said. “And we agree on what to do. And we want to continue to follow the highest ethical standards,” she said.
Supreme Court justices are expected to follow financial disclosure provisions that apply to all federal judges. But the high court is not beholden to other federal ethics rules, and judges decide on their own when to recuse themselves from cases.
Recent surveys carried out by ProPublica raised questions about possible ethics violations among judges and renewed calls for a code of ethics at the Supreme Court.
ProPublica found that conservative Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose lavish trips, among other expenses, paid for by his longtime friend Harlan Crow, a Republican megadonor. Thomas later released a statement saying that when he first joined the court he was informed that he was not required to disclose the hospitality of his personal friends.
Billionaire Paul Singer paid Justice Samuel Alito to take a private jet on a luxury fishing trip to Alaska, after which Singer’s hedge fund took several cases to the high court, the outlet reported. Alito also did not disclose the trip, according to ProPublica. In an opinion article published in June in the Wall Street Journal, Alito defended his actions, saying he had no obligation to recuse himself from matters involving Singer and that he had only interacted with him “on a few occasions.”
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch have also faced ethics questions in recent months.
Barrett is not the first sitting judge to support a code of ethics. Elena Kagan suggested that a code of ethics at the Supreme Court would be a “good thing,” while Brett Kavanaugh said in September that he hoped there would be “concrete steps soon” to answer questions facing the Court is confronted.
Chief Justice John Roberts said earlier this year that the court could do more to “adhere to the highest ethical standards” and that the justices were “continuing to look at things we can do to give practical effect to this commitment.
The Senate Judiciary Committee invited Roberts to testify on court-related ethics issues in the spring, but he declined.
The panel then voted along party lines – with Democrats in favor and Republicans against – to send to the Senate a bill that would require the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code and require justices to explain their decisions. challenge to the public.