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Statement on McDonnell v. United States Decision

Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth issued this statement following the Supreme Court’s announcement of an 8-0 decision overturning former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s federal corruption conviction:

An elected official receives a number of objects of value from a donor and gets caught, but his conviction is thrown out by eight judges who themselves take full advantage of their public office to fly around the world for free, receive gifts of their own and earn outside, non-governmental income.

So went the final case of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015-16 term, as on Monday Bob McDonnell had his corruption conviction vacated unanimously by the justices.

The result should not be so surprising. After all, compared to the rest of the federal government and most state officials, the justices are bound by less stringent personal finance and ethics rules. The jurists do not reveal their travel benefactors, have not promulgated their own code of conduct and face no repercussions should they omit information from their annual financial disclosure statements, which they refuse to place online for all to see.

After Monday’s decision, it is possible that McDonnell’s corruption case may start afresh in a lower court. But given the justices’ refusal to follow ethics rules befitting their office, the Supreme Court seems to have been an unfortunate stop along the way.

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