Improving Ethics Standards at the Supreme Court


At a Glance

Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, but there is little structure to hold them accountable when ethics concerns arise. To maintain public trust, it's critical that the Supreme Court be held to similar ethical standards as other branches of government and that justices are held accountable when those standards are violated.

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The Latest

Next month, the Judicial Conference will meet and should report out regarding the current review they are conducting into the allegations that Justice Clarence Thomas violated federal financial disclosure laws.

Today, in anticipation of that meeting, Campaign Legal Center submitted additional information for this body to consider in its role as the...

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About this Action

Voters have a right to know that the officials who write, implement and interpret the laws that govern this land are prioritizing the greater public good over their own personal interests. Strong, clear ethics laws provide voters with this knowledge and set guidelines for officials to follow. 

Unfortunately, strong and clear ethics guidelines do not exist for the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the result is a federal judiciary that has accumulated a significant amount of scrutiny and mounting public distrust. 

Observing the court for many years, Campaign Legal Center has identified three key reforms that could vastly improve ethical standards at the Supreme Court and, by extension, improve public trust: 

  1. 1. The Court needs a code of ethics, one that outlines clear rules for handling conflicts of interest, because the American people have a right to know if justices are favoring their own personal interests over those of our democracy. 

  1. 2. There should also be clear and specific guidelines for when a justice should recuse themselves from a case – such guidelines exist for officials in the executive branch.   

  1. 3. There must be a body – a designated individual or office - tasked with enforcing this code of ethics to ensure investigations take place.   

It is critical for the public’s trust in our democratic institutions that the highest court in our nation is held to at least the same ethical standards as the other branches of government and lower courts, and that justices are held accountable when they violate those standards.  

Campaign Legal Center continues to keep a close eye on the Court, advocating for reform when possible.  

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