Senate committee debates Supreme Court ethics rules

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee debated whether ethics rules for the U.S. Supreme Court need to be tightened in a hearing that led to partisan disagreement on Tuesday.

Much of the issue comes down to how the rules are enforced.

Lower court judges are bound by a judicial code of conduct that says a judge must avoid “all impropriety and appearances of impropriety” and there is an investigative process if there are misconduct allegations.

But the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t have the same enforcement method for ethics rules, leading critics to argue the highest court has been left to self-police instead.

“The reason this is so important for there to be a code of conduct, a binding code of conduct with consequences for the Supreme Court, is because they are unelectable,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). “Once they are put on the bench, they are virtually unaccountable. So, it is even more critical that there are rules for what Justices can do and can’t do.”

The current debate stems from recent reports that revealed Justice Clarence Thomas accepted lavish vacations and real estate deals from a Republican donor without publicly disclosing it.

“The highest court in the land should not have the lowest ethical standards,” said Rakim Brooks, President of the Alliance for Justice.

Republicans argue Democrats are targeting the conservative majority on the high court.

“This is not about making the court better,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “This is about destroying a conservative court.”

GOP critics on the panel said Democrats are using what they call selective outrage because they disagree with rulings like last year’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

“I’ve been disappointed by Supreme Court opinions too, but my Democratic colleagues should fill out a hurt feelings report and move on,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).

Chief Justice John Roberts declined the invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing because of concerns about maintaining the separation of powers among the branches of government.

None of the Justices attended the hearing.

Democrats dismissed that argument.

“Sitting Justices have testified at 92 Congressional hearings since 1960,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW


Off-duty Pittsburgh police officers involved in altercation after Luke Combs concert Jonas Brothers bringing ‘The Tour’ to Pittsburgh Many Dollar Bank customers missing hundreds of dollars due to ATM skimming Man charged in connection to death of woman hit by truck in Oakland DOWNLOAD the Channel 11 News app for breaking news alerts