Senators To Introduce Bipartisan Bill Requiring Supreme Court to Adopt Code of Conduct

Chief Justice Roberts Declines Invitation to Speak to Congress

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Angus King have unveiled a new bipartisan bill that would require the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct following ProPublica reports that Justices Thomas and Gorsuch failed to report financial transactions.

The bipartisan proposal would end the existing arrangement in which Supreme Court justices are not bound by a code of conduct unlike every other federal judge.

“It’s pitiful that we’re having to introduce this bill—it’s pathetic that the Supreme Court hasn’t done this itself,” King said.

“The American public’s confidence in the Supreme Court is at an all-time-low. Americans have made clear their concerns with the transparency—or lack thereof—coming from the Supreme Court and its justices,” Murkowski said.

  • The bill would require the Supreme Court to implement a code of conduct within one year of its enactment into law and publish the new code on its website so it’s available to the public.  
  • It would further require the court to name an individual to handle any complaints of violations of the code and give the court authority to initiate investigations to determine if justices or staff have engaged in conduct affecting the administration of justice or violating federal laws or codes of conduct.  
  • It would empower the court to draft its own code of conduct to preserve the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches, thereby deflecting any criticism that members of Congress would be interfering in the court’s affairs.  

ProPublica published details of undisclosed real estate deals and luxury trips Clarence Thomas accepted from a wealthy donor, and on Tuesday reports revealed Neil Gorsuch failed to disclose a real estate transaction with the CEO of a major law firm, also a Republican megadonor.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin invited Chief Justice John Roberts to testify at a May 2 hearing that would review Supreme Court ethical standards.

Roberts declined.

Daily Beast, The Hill

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