On Monday, the Supreme Court indicated that it would adopt a code of conduct amid heightened scrutiny over the high court’s standards when it comes to undisclosed gifts and trips.
Breaking News: The Supreme Court said on Monday that it had issued an ethics code for the justices after months of increasing pressure to adopt one following a series of revelations about undisclosed property deals and gifts. https://t.co/cjy0TH3FJg
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 13, 2023
In a statement released alongside the 15-page code, the justices said the court’s rules and principles are, for the most part, “not new.”
However, “codification” of existing principles is meant to clear up concerns about the justices operating without oversight.
From the New York Times:
“The absence of a Code … has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the Justices of this Court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules,” the statement reads. “To dispel this misunderstanding, we are issuing this Code, which largely represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct.”
After the announcement was made, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said the newly-announced ethics code “falls short” of what the standard should be after a months-long battle over justices receiving luxury gifts and trips from top GOP donors.
Durbin has been a vocal critic of Supreme Court justices receiving gifts from political donors and launched an investigation into some of the donors last month.
Senate Democrats Want To Subpoena Harlan Crow Over Ties To Clarence Thomas. Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) plan to compel additional GOP benefactors as they step up their ethics probe into the Supreme Court. https://t.co/e8NjPES5Kr pic.twitter.com/NVQkkbFB9d
— ProgressivePower (@OurProgressive) October 31, 2023
From The Hill:
Durbin conceded that the adoption of an updated code represents a “step in the right direction.”
But he said it is not enough, and raised concerns about enforcement and how much of the code is self-governed.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says SCOTUS’ code of ethics “marks a step in the right direction,” but appears to “fall short”:
“The court’s new code of conduct does not appear to contain any meaningful enforcement mechanism to hold justices accountable for any violations of the code.” pic.twitter.com/di1X9VMF9i
— The Recount (@therecount) November 13, 2023
The No. 2 Senate Democrat noted that the ethics code includes a number of “important canons of conduct,” pointing to those on upholding integrity, independence of the judiciary and those related to improprieties.
“All of these are important steps, but they fall short of what we could and should expect when a Supreme Court issues a code of conduct,” Durbin said on the Senate floor.
Durbin also criticized the court’s statement earlier in the day that many of the items included in the code were “not new,” adding that it is a problem as the previous code was “plainly inadequate” for the Court.