Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth released this statement following news that Justice Kennedy spoke with the Trump campaign about potential Supreme Court nominees:
“It is a clear violation of judicial ethics for a sitting Supreme Court justice to advise a presidential campaign, as a new book reports Justice Kennedy did in 2016. We didn’t give Justice Ginsburg a pass for her Trump Derangement Syndrome, and neither will we excuse Justice Kennedy’s Trump Engagement Syndrome. Instead of engaging, Kennedy should have referred campaign staff to any number of publicly available compilations of potential nominees in a Republican administration.
“Though Supreme Court justices are notoriously exempt from the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges, which prohibits ‘political activity,’ Kennedy himself is on record as incorporating those canons into his personal conduct policy. Responding to a question I sent to the Hill for a 2013 judiciary budget hearing, Justice Kennedy told members of Congress (at 1:19:50), ‘I’ve never had a problem with [the conduct code] because in my own professional career, [I] consider those guidelines absolutely binding. […] As a matter of following those precepts, we absolutely follow those precepts.’
“This episode clearly demonstrates that an individual commitment to behave ethically is insufficient. Fix the Court will continue to work with its partners and with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to fix this omission.”