“Peak gaslighting”: Legal scholars shred Supreme Court’s spin on new “unenforceable” ethics code

 “No provision in the Constitution gives [Congress] the authority to regulate the Supreme Court—period.” Justice Alito

According to Salon’s reporting today,

“The Supreme Court on Monday adopted an ethics code following a slew of bombshell discoveries about lavish gifts, real estate deals, and other allegations of ethics violations.  The 14-page document detailed rules that are not technically new; however, a statement shared by the nine justices said that “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 undersigned justices are promulgating this Code of Conduct to set out succinctly and gather in one place the ethics rules and principles that guide the conduct of the Members of the Court,” the statement added.


The notion of a congressionally-imposed ethics code has been met with opposition from justices in the past. Justice Samuel Alito in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this summer argued that “Congress lacks the power to impose a code of ethics on the Supreme Court.” The statement came shortly after Democrats “pushed Supreme Court ethics legislation through a Senate committee, though the bill’s prospects in the full Senate are dim,” as noted by the Associated Press. 

“Congress did not create the Supreme Court,” he continued, while also touching on accusations leveled at his own judicial ethics. “I marvel at all the nonsense that has been written about me in the last year. The traditional idea about how judges and justices should behave is they should be mute. But that’s just not happening, and so at a certain point I’ve said to myself, nobody else is going to do this, so I have to defend myself.” 

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

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