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Forty Members of Congress Add Their Names to SCOTUS Ethics Bills

Since the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision on June 24, 40 Democrats (Aug. 1 edit: 55 Democrats) have cosponsored various Supreme Court ethics bills, and six have added their names to the SCOTUS term limits bill, while only two House Democrats in very safe seats and no Senate Democrats have signed on to the court expansion bills.

Supreme Court, Inferior Oversight: How SCOTUS Lags Behind the Other Branches | Fix the Court

This trend underscores how, in an election year, even with a reactionary court, Democrats have wisened up to the fact that expansion remains unpopular, not to mention impossible in this political climate to advance beyond the introductory stage. Meanwhile, sources tell Fix the Court that House Democratic leadership will seek a floor vote on an ethics bill — likely to be the Judiciary Committee-passed, Supreme Court Ethics Recusal and Transparency Act (SCERT) — later this year.

“The American people want more robust protections for women’s health, but they don’t want 13 justices, and those who say that to achieve the former requires the latter are not being honest,” Fix the Court’s Gabe Roth said.

“Executive action, the FDA, the DOJ, Congress and state officials all have critical roles to play, and the magical thinking that one day soon 51 or 60 senators and a majority in the House will back court expansion, and then the court will take a case to overturn Dobbs, doesn’t help a single woman receive the care they need in 2022 — or in 2032, 2042 or 2052 for that matter.”

The Rep. Johnson-led House SCERT bill has added 15 cosponsors in recent weeks (names at end of the release) to bring the total number of original sponsors and cosponsors to 49. The Sen. Whitehouse-led Senate companion added four cosponsors yesterday, bringing its total to 12. The bill requires the justices to write and adopt a code of conduct, modernizes and toughens up the recusal rules and sets a minimum requirement for travel and gift reporting rules so they’d be at least as strict as what members of Congress must abide by.

The latter provision has become even more important in light of the revelation of a decades-long, unreported-on-disclosures campaign by religious right groups to influence the justices, among other ethical lapses that are reducing the public’s faith in the institution.

The Rep. Johnson-led Supreme Court Ethics Act, which would require the Judicial Conference of the U.S. to write a code of conduct for all federal judges and justices, has recently added another 16 cosponsors: 13 more in the House and three more in the Senate. At 123 sponsors and cosponsors, the House version is nearing a record; 130 house Democrats were on the 2015 version. The 29 backers of the Sen. Murphy-led Senate version in this Congress is a record, surpassing the previous record of 23 in 2019. In addition, the Rep. Jayapal-led Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act (JEACA) has added five cosponsors in recent days.

Though it’s impressive that the Judiciary Act, which would add four justices to SCOTUS, has 59 House backers, 57 of them signed on prior to Dobbs, with only Reps. Bill Pascrell (N.J.) and Jim McGovern (Mass.), both of whom are in very safe Democratic seats, adding their names in the last three weeks. The bill currently has three supporters in the Senate.

More information:
In case anyone thought SCOTUS ethics was a single-party issue, the reason that the language in the Supreme Court Ethics Act is directing the Judicial Conference to write a code is because that was the language in the Republican-drafted Judiciary ROOM Act of 2018, and Democrats’ decision to adopt that language in the 2019 and 2021 versions of their SCOTUS ethics bill was a nod to bipartisanship. SCERT has SCOTUS writing the SCOTUS ethics code, which is generally thought to be more constitutionally palatable.

Recent cosponsors of court reform bills and date of cosponsorship:

NEW SCOTUS ETHICS BILL (S. 2512) COSPONSORS — SENATE (4)
Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD] 07/11/2022
Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE] 07/12/2022
Sen. Peters, Gary C. [D-MI] 07/18/2022
Sen. Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI] 07/20/2022

NEW SCOTUS ETHICS BILL (H.R. 4766) COSPONSORS — HOUSE (15)
Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] 07/12/2022
Rep. Kaptur, Marcy [D-OH-9] 07/12/2022
Rep. Tonko, Paul [D-NY-20] 07/12/2022
Rep. Torres, Norma J. [D-CA-35] 07/12/2022
Rep. Espaillat, Adriano [D-NY-13] 07/14/2022
Rep. Matsui, Doris O. [D-CA-6] 07/14/2022
Rep. Higgins, Brian [D-NY-26] 07/14/2022
Rep. Auchincloss, Jake [D-MA-4] 07/14/2022
Rep. Schneider, Bradley Scott [D-IL-10] 07/14/2022
Rep. DeLauro, Rosa L. [D-CT-3] 07/15/2022
Rep. Kim, Andy [D-NJ-3] 07/15/2022
Rep. Cartwright, Matt [D-PA-8] 07/15/2022
Rep. Leger Fernandez, Teresa [D-NM-3] 07/18/2022
Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24] 07/26/2022
Rep. Garcia, Jesus G. “Chuy” [D-IL-4] 07/26/2022

NEW SCERT BILL (S. 4188) COSPONSORS — SENATE (5)
Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR] 07/19/2022
Sen. Reed, Jack [D-RI] 07/19/2022
Sen. Cortez Masto, Catherine [D-NV] 07/19/2022
Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY] 07/19/2022
Sen. Warner, Mark R. [D-VA] 07/27/2022

NEW SCERT BILL (H.R. 7647) COSPONSORS — HOUSE (15)
Rep. Price, David E. [D-NC-4] 07/12/2022
Rep. Tonko, Paul [D-NY-20] 07/12/2022
Rep. Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA-28] 07/12/2022
Rep. Kaptur, Marcy [D-OH-9] 07/12/2022
Rep. Watson Coleman, Bonnie [D-NJ-12] 07/12/2022
Rep. Evans, Dwight [D-PA-3] 07/12/2022
Rep. Green, Al [D-TX-9] 07/12/2022
Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. [D-NY-12] 07/12/2022
Rep. Newman, Marie [D-IL-3] 07/12/2022
Rep. Connolly, Gerald E. [D-VA-11] 07/15/2022
Rep. Casten, Sean [D-IL-6] 07/15/2022
Rep. Scott, David [D-GA-13] 07/18/2022
Rep. Leger Fernandez, Teresa [D-NM-3] 07/18/2022
Rep. Ruiz, Raul [D-CA-36] 07/18/2022
Rep. Grijalva, Raúl M. [D-AZ-3] 07/18/2022
Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17] 07/21/2022
Rep. Krishnamoorthi, Raja [D-IL-8] 07/21/2022
Rep. McCollum, Betty [D-MN-4] 07/21/2022
Rep. Scanlon, Mary Gay [D-PA-5] 07/26/2022
Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24] 07/26/2022
Rep. Carson, Andre [D-IN-7] 07/26/2022

NEW JEACA BILL (H.R. 7706) COSPONSORS — HOUSE (10)
Rep. Crow, Jason [D-CO-6] 07/11/2022
Rep. Meng, Grace [D-NY-6] 07/11/2022
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria [D-NY-14] 07/11/2022
Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. [D-NY-12] 07/13/2022
Rep. Pocan, Mark [D-WI-2] 07/19/2022
Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13] 07/27/2022
Rep. Grijalva, Raúl M. [D-AZ-3] 07/27/2022
Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11] 07/29/2022
Rep. Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR-3] 07/29/2022
Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27] 07/29/2022

NEW SCOTUS TERM LIMITS BILL (H.R. 5140) COSPONSORS — HOUSE (9)
Rep. Casten, Sean [D-IL-6] 07/05/2022
Rep. Cárdenas, Tony [D-CA-29] 07/05/2022
Rep. Boyle, Brendan F. [D-PA-2] 07/05/2022
Rep. Levin, Andy [D-MI-9] 07/11/2022
Rep. Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA-28] 07/11/2022
Rep. Titus, Dina [D-NV-1] 07/11/2022
Rep. Omar, Ilhan [D-MN-5] 07/20/2022
Rep. Lieu, Ted [D-CA-33] 07/20/2022
Rep. Phillips, Dean [D-MN-3] 07/26/2022

NEW JUDICIARY ACT (H.R. 2584) COSPONSORS — HOUSE (2)
Rep. Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [D-NJ-9] 06/28/2022
Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2] 07/12/2022

Tell Your Members of Congress: Require the Supreme Court to Follow a Code of Conduct

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