NBC News published a 2,300-word story today – with an accompanying video – about the lack of a professional ethics code at the Supreme Court, quoting Fix the Court extensively throughout. (Text | Video)
The piece is tied to the Gorsuch confirmation and how, for the fourth time in six years, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced a Supreme Court Ethics Act to compel the justices to adopt a code of conduct.
Fix the Court had worked behind the scenes to try to get Republicans to join in the effort this year – especially since it was Justice Ginsburg’s comments on Trump that ran afoul of the code most recently – but that hasn’t happened yet.
The bill, which would require the justices themselves to promulgate a code, seems a fair compromise between Congress’ broad statutory authority over the judiciary and the justices’ own insights into the types of ethics rules that should apply to them given their unique place in the constitutional order.
While none of the justices has committed a removal offense, all are culpable of various ethical oversights, from leaving assets off their disclosure reports to speaking at partisan fundraisers to ruling on cases despite credible conflicts of interest.
Enacting a code would create uniformity around thorny issues like recusals and participation in political activities and would bring the institution closer to the public’s expectations of accountability from government officials. Or so the thinking goes.