U.S. Supreme Court

Chief justice considering possibility of ethics code for Supreme Court, Kagan reveals

  • Print


U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Elena Kagan.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is considering whether to create an ethics code for Supreme Court justices, Justice Elena Kagan told a congressional committee Thursday.

Kagan made the disclosure in response to questioning about judicial accountability in the #MeToo era, report the National Law Journal, SCOTUSblog, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. How Appealing links to additional coverage here and here.

“The chief justice is studying the question of whether to have a code of judicial conduct that is applicable only to the United States Supreme Court,” Kagan said. “That’s something we have not discussed as a conference yet, and has pros and cons I’m sure, but it’s something that’s being thought very seriously about.”

Kagan made her statements during an appearance with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. before a House appropriations subcommittee that is reviewing the Supreme Court’s budget.

Kagan and Alito also fielded questions about televising oral arguments. Both said they were against the idea. Alito said it could change the way lawyers behave, and Kagan said statements taken out of context could lead to public misperceptions.

Alito indicated that he once thought differently. “I recognize that most people think that arguments should be televised. Most of the members of my family think that arguments should be televised. I used to think that arguments should be televised,” he said.

But after joining the Supreme Court, he saw that televising arguments could undermine their value, Alito said. “I think that lawyers would find it irresistible to try to put in a little soundbite,” he explained.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.