Demand Progress

The Supreme Court needs a Code of Ethics!

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    The Supreme Court needs a Code of Ethics!

    Petition to Congress:
    We urge you to immediately pass the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, legislation that would enact urgently-needed ethical standards for the Supreme Court. Rooting out corruption on the Supreme Court is a necessary step towards addressing the legitimacy crisis the far-right extremist court currently faces.

    "The extremist Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis," progressive champion Rep. Pramila Jayapal tweeted last week.1 With each new egregious ruling — including recent rulings on abortion rights, environmental protection, and gun regulations — SCOTUS further proves its illegitimacy. 

    As Rep. Jayapal stated, "A system without basic ethics is a corrupt system."2 The Supreme Court lacks any ethical standards preventing justices from ruling in their own financial interests. And it’s packed with far-right extremists backed by the Koch brothers-funded Federalist Society.  

    It’s clearer than ever: the Supreme Court needs structural change. At a bare minimum, that means passing the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act. 

    Sign the petition: Pass the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, legislation creating a Code of Ethics for Supreme Court justices and their spouses!

    Progressive champions Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act in response to the revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas’s highly questionable conduct on the court.3 Justice Thomas’s wife, far-right activist Ginni Thomas, got caught texting with Mark Meadows about the insurrection and agitating to overturn the 2020 election. 

    If a justice or justice’s spouse has a conflict of interest, the justice must recuse themselves from the case. Otherwise we get situations like Justice Thomas’s brazen effort to block the congressional committee investigating the insurrection from accessing Trump’s papers.3

    Rep. Jayapal and Sen. Warren called for Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself, but without a code of conduct, the Supreme Court is free to do as it pleases.4

    In Rep. Jayapal’s words: "We can no longer stand by while our judges and justices take advantage of our system to build wealth and power at the expense of our country’s most marginalized." We need a SCOTUS Code of Ethics — now! 

    Sign the petition: Pass the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act! It’s a critical first step to creating a legitimate Supreme Court.

    1. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Twitter, June 29, 2022.
    2. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, "Warren, Jayapal, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Reform Broken Judicial Ethics System," May 10, 2022.
    3. Washington Post, "With Supreme Court in spotlight, Warren and Jayapal push judicial ethics overhaul," May 10, 2022.
    4. Washington Post, "Democrats in Congress ask Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases," March 29, 2022.