The Supreme Court docket on Monday issued a code of conduct for itself for the primary time, however acknowledged that the principles had been “not new” and easily reaffirmed ideas it says its judges have lengthy adopted.
The judges hope the legislation will “dispel this misunderstanding” that they “take into account themselves not certain by any moral guidelines,” the announcement mentioned.
However this modest effort is unlikely to finish the controversy over Choose Clarence Thomas and his free luxurious holidays, paid for by Texas actual property billionaire Harlan Crowe.
It’s because there may be nonetheless no enforcement mechanism behind the court docket’s code of conduct, and judges stay free to resolve for themselves whether or not particular presents or journey cross the road and are prohibited.
All federal judges really observe the identical code of conduct, however in contrast to judges, they will face investigation and even reprimand for ethics violations.
The Supreme Court docket confirmed that its judges are impartial and never topic to the supervision of exterior authorities.
ProPublica and different information organizations reported that Thomas recurrently obtained massive, undisclosed presents that got here to him solely as a result of he sits on the nation’s highest court docket.
They embrace free luxurious holidays for a decade and journey on a non-public jet owned by Crowe. Personal faculty tuition was paid for the kid Thomas was elevating, as was the acquisition and renovation of his mom’s home in Savannah, Georgia.
Thomas turned to a different rich pal to pay him $267,000 to purchase him a luxurious leisure car.
Ethics legal guidelines prohibit judges from accepting presents from folks “whose pursuits could also be considerably affected” by the choice.
Judges should disclose journey and lodging prices paid by others. They’re required by legislation to recuse themselves or withdraw from adjudicating instances wherein their “neutrality could also be topic to affordable doubt.”