This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on November 14, 2023.
The Supreme Court this week adopted its first-ever code of ethics. The justices might as well have done nothing.
In a scathing rebuke of the code, the Alliance for Justice said, “There is no indication as to what could happen to a justice who violates it. This toothless approach makes the code largely symbolic and thus it will not increase accountability among the justices.”
It goes on to state: “Moreover, the code appears to be carefully constructed to circumvent and excuse all of the current ethics concerns plaguing the court. Nothing in the code, for example, would be bothered by Justice (Clarence) Thomas accepting lavish gifts and vacations from a wealthy conservative donor with obvious interests before the Court.”
The recent calls for a code of ethics are leveled on Justice Thomas, who has acknowledged not reporting lavish gifts and trips from wealthy GOP donors.
“If the Supreme Court’s code of conduct doesn’t, in effect, require Justice Thomas’s immediate resignation, it is worthless. Thomas has committed egregious and repeated violations of the law, and that much should be clear in a code of conduct. In addition, a code should have enforcement mechanisms that help restore the public’s faith in the Court. This code does neither,” the alliance’s president, Rakim H.D. Brooks, said. “We need a code that effectively prevents the wealthy and powerful from having undue influence on the Court. Congress must continue its work until we have one.”