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Two Dozen Legal Ethics Scholars Ask Chief Justice Roberts for an Ethics Code

May 1 update: For a complete list of the justices’ ethics lapses, see this link.

As several high-stakes cases bring greater public scrutiny to the Supreme Court, 25 leading legal ethics scholars on Feb. 3 sent a letter to Chief Justice Roberts asking that he complete his erstwhile project of “thinking very seriously” about drafting a formal ethics code for the Supreme Court.

 “We do not question the integrity of any justice; nor do we write in response to any single speech, interview or other extrajudicial activity undertaken by any of the justices in recent years,” write a who’s who of ethicists.

“We simply believe that a written Code, even if primarily aspirational, would have a broad salutary impact, assisting current and future members of the Court to transparently address potential conflicts and other issues in a way that builds public trust in the institution. […]”

“At a time when public institutions are redoubling their efforts to improve the public’s trust, we maintain that a formal, written Code, offering a uniform set of principles that justices and the public alike would look to for guidance, would benefit the Court and the nation,” they conclude.

Though several recent congressional proposals would impose a code on the justices, the scholars say they’d prefer SCOTUS to write a code for themselves.

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