Constitutional Law

100 Law Profs Lobby Congress to Apply Ethics Code to US Supreme Court Justices

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A group of more than 100 law professors is asking Congress to apply to the justices of the nation’s top court an ethics code that applies to other federal judges.

The move follows recent criticism of several U.S. Supreme Court justices for attending private political meetings and accepting travel funds from private donors, reports the Washington Post.

Congress should create “mandatory and enforceable rules to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court,” the law profs say in a letter today to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. While other courts do not allow an individual judge to determine the propriety of his or her own conduct, “inexplicably we still allow Supreme Court justices to be the sole judge of themselves on recusal issues.”

The Alliance for Justice links to a copy of the letter (PDF).

Even if the nation’s lawmakers decide to impose an ethics code on the nine justices, it could face constitutional challenge, the Post article notes.

The Connecticut Mirror and the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog report on a bill being drafted by U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy that would require justices to state their grounds for recusing themselves from cases.

Related coverage: “Justice Thomas Accused of Failing to Report $686K in Wife’s Income” “Justice Thomas’ Wife Starts Political Consulting Business for ‘Liberty-Loving Citizens’”

Updated on Feb. 28 to include Alliance for Justice press release and linked copy of letter.

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