In a significant move, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced its inaugural code of conduct to regulate the ethical conduct of its nine justices.
This decision comes in response to mounting pressure from external sources, as reports emerged about undisclosed luxurious trips and close associations with affluent benefactors.
The newly established code has garnered a mixed response, with some critics pointing out the apparent lack of any enforcement mechanism. The code was implemented following a string of media exposés shedding light on ethical concerns surrounding certain members of the Supreme Court, particularly conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.
Concurrently, Senate Democrats were persistently pushing for legislation to mandate an ethics code for the country’s highest judicial body, although its chances of success were slim.
Spanning nine pages, the code encompasses various sections outlining that justices should not allow external relationships to influence their official conduct or decision-making. It spells out limitations on their participation in fundraising activities and reiterates the restrictions on accepting gifts. Additionally, it explicitly states that justices should not utilize judicial resources or staff for non-official purposes to any significant extent.
An accompanying commentary, which further elaborates on certain provisions, supports the notion that justices should evaluate the impact of speaking engagements on the perception of impropriety among reasonable members of the public.
For several months, the court has faced backlash due to revelations surrounding justices’ undisclosed trips on private jets, lavish vacations, real estate deals, recreational vehicle transactions, and more.