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Statement on the Latest SCOTUS Ethics Scandal

Fix the Court’s Gabe Roth released this statement:

Whenever I hear about or uncover a Supreme Court ethics controversy, my first question is often, what if this were about a lower-court judge and not a justice?

If a Judge Alito flew a “Stop the Steal” symbol at his house, any American could file a complaint with the chief judge of his circuit, who could then appoint a committee of judges that with help from outside investigators would make an inquiry about the incident.

If this Judge Alito were found culpable, he could be censured, temporarily removed from a specific subset of cases — say, presidential election cases — and required to sit through ethics training.

There is no logical reason why nine of the 2,300 men and women who serve as jurists in the federal judiciary should be exempt from these sorts of ethics rules and disciplinary measures for misbehavior.

In other words, the current disciplinary rubric at the high Court — effectively “impeachment or nothing” — is asinine. There has to be a middle ground.

It’s also worth mentioning that we’re in appropriations season, and I’m hearing that some Democrats, as they did last year, want to introduce an amendment to the Supreme Court’s budget that would reduce the Court’s non-security spending by $10 million until they agree to enforceable ethics rules.

First, Sen. Van Hollen, who introduced the amendment, should, unlike last year, require a vote. Second, why not put more skin in the game? Until the justices agree to place themselves under the same disciplinary rubric as lower-court judges, say Congress withholds funding for their law clerks.

Let’s see how the nine would like that.

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