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What We Accomplished in 2023

This was a big year for judicial accountability.

Probably the biggest since our 2014 founding. There are 1,000 things we could say, but we’re limiting our look-back to two top-five lists:

Top 5 Fix the Court accomplishments:

1. The Supreme Court now has a Code of Conduct. Pleased to have played a small role in making this happen, which confirms that public pressure works.

2. SCOTUS ethics is now its own news beat. We’re no longer a lonely voice in the darkness.

3. Lawmakers are now attempting to use the appropriations process to influence judiciary ethics policy. Nothing passed, of course, but simply trying is something we’ve long advocated for — and bodes well for the future.

4. A bipartisan endorsement of SCOTUS term limits. An American Academy of Arts & Sciences report backs 18-year terms for future justices via legislation. Where’d they come up with that?

5. Multiple hyperpartisan editorials criticizing our work. In America in 2023, this is a badge of honor.

Honorable mentions: Proving that, post-CETA, federal judges are buying nearly as much stock as they’re selling; all circuit courts and SCOTUS are still livestreaming; FTC-championed provisions (“cooling-off” period required post-gift acceptance; SCOTUS gift and travel rules matching those for Congress) remaining in SCERT, which passed Committee; getting judges across the country to file missing private seminar reports; effectively taking over the listing of justices’ appearances from SCOTUSMap; doing some of the work that led to Justice Sotomayor acknowledging she should recuse from petitions involving her book publisher; this

Top 5 opportunities in the new year:

1. The Supreme Court now has a Code of Conduct. Too many “shoulds” instead of “shalls.” No complaints inbox. No new ethics staff or investigative capacity. Emphasizing a “duty to sit” over legitimate ethics concerns. There’s more to do.

2. Justice Thomas’ disclosure errors referral. This was made eight months ago, and we still don’t know if the Judicial Conference committee in charge has met yet, let alone decided anything.

3. Moore v. U.S. remains on the SCOTUS docket. The Moores seem to have made up a bunch of stuff. Three justices have investments similar to the Moores’ that may get tax breaks thanks to the result. And don’t forget the Alito-Rivkin connection. Should’ve been DIGed.

4. The Judicial Conference’s broadcast policy. No live audio for civil proceedings with witnesses; studying live audio for criminal proceedings will take three years. With major trials on tap for next year, we’ll keep pushing.

5. PACER still costs $0.10/page. Tearing down the paywall will be a top Fix the Court priority in 2024.

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