Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Erin Scott
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer holds a copy of the Constitution of the United States, January 27, 2022.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed legislation to address the growing ethics crisis at the Supreme Court. The “Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2022” (H.R. 7647) would require the Supreme Court to create a code of conduct that would apply to both the justices and their employees, ensuring that justices cannot pick and choose their ethical obligations without being bound by a single, uniform code.

Recent ethical lapses by justices appointed by presidents from both parties underscored the urgent need for this legislation. These included Justice Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from a case regarding his wife’s involvement in the January 6th affairs, and the leaked draft by Justice Samuel Alito on the court’s upcoming Roe v. Wade ruling.

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“The Supreme Court is one of the nation’s most vital institutions and its fidelity to equal and impartial justice, as well as the public’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary, are foundational to maintaining the rule of law,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

“We expect the justices of our nation’s highest court to hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct, but, in fact, their conduct too often falls below the standards that most other government officials are required to follow,” Rep. Nadler said in a press release. “This important legislation will address the growing and persistent ethics crisis at our nation’s highest court by requiring the Supreme Court to promulgate an express code of conduct that would apply to both the justices and their employees. This bill is a major step forward for judicial ethics and I thank Subcommittee Chairman Johnson for bringing forward this much-needed legislation.”

The committee voted on the bill along party lines, with all the Democrats voting for the bill and all the Republicans against it.

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