Lawmakers Push to Advance Supreme Ethics Code

Forty-three House Democrats are pushing for a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would apply to Supreme Court justices the same ethics code that other federal judges are required to follow, according to a New York Times article.

Ethics questions have been raised about the conduct of certain justices in connection with appearances at political events, with the acceptance of favors from a conservative contributor, and regarding the work of Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, on behalf of conservative causes. Justices from both the liberal and conservative wings of the court have been targeted by critics who ask whether the conduct erodes public confidence in an impartial court.

Murphy’s legislation, which was the subject of earlier Gavel Grab posts, would have the Judicial Conference establish a process for investigating ethics complaints about justices, and justices would be required to explain why they did or did not recuse from hearing a case. If a justice declined to step aside from hearing a case, the rest of the court could disqualify him or her.

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