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 October 18, 2023

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett says Supreme Court Ethics Code is a 'Good Idea'

This week, Justice Amy Coney Barrett proposed that the Supreme Court adopt an ethics code, deeming it a "good idea."

Barrett made the remark during a Monday event at the University of Minnesota Law School, as The Daily Wire reported.

"It would be a good idea for us to do it," Barrett said during a discussion at the event with Robert Stein, a longtime law professor and former chief operating officer of the American Bar Association. “Particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what it is that we are doing in a clearer way,” Barrett added.

Barrett stated that her fellow justices are largely in favor of an ethics code similar to those followed by subordinate court judges.

“There is no lack of consensus among the justices,” she said. “There’s unanimity among all nine justices that we should and do hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards possible.”

The Supreme Court is the only federal court that does not currently require its nine justices to adhere to a formal code of ethics. Although they lack a formal code of ethics, justices adhere to other regulations, such as submitting annual financial disclosure reports.

In April, after allegations that he neglected to report trips with his close friend Harlan Crow, a real estate magnate and billionaire Republican donor, Justice Clarence Thomas defended the trips.

“As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them,” Thomas said.

“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”

Her literary career has raised ethical concerns about Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The taxpayer-funded court staff of Justice Sotomayor has repeatedly organized speaking engagements to promote her memoir and children's books, which have earned her at least $3.7 million.

Justice Samuel Alito was also accused of failing to properly report a 2008 fishing excursion to Alaska, during which he allegedly traveled on a private jet with hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. Additionally, Alito was accused of not recusing himself from cases involving Singer.

Alito responded to the criticism in June by stating that he was not required to recuse himself from any of the contested cases because he was unaware of Singer's involvement in any of them. He added that he had only met Singer on "a handful of occasions" and that the two had never engaged in anything more than small conversation.

At least two additional justices, Justices Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh, have also expressed support for the implementation of an official ethics code.

Last month, Kavanaugh said, “I’m hopeful that there will be some concrete steps taken soon on that."

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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