Kedric Payne, Campaign Legal Center Vice President, General Counsel and Senior Director for Ethics, Testifies Before the Senate Judiciary Committee


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Kedric Payne – Vice President, General Counsel, and Senior Director of Ethics at Campaign Legal Center – testified before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, during a hearing on Supreme Court Ethics Reform. 

“The scandals surrounding the Supreme Court in recent months and years have led to a significant decline of public trust in the Court,” said Kedric Payne. “The Supreme Court can increase public trust in the judiciary by establishing specific and relevant ethics practices that have already proven effective in the other two branches of government.” 

Ethics rules for the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) lag behind those for executive and legislative branch officials and even other federal judges. Supreme Court Justices determine for themselves if they will recuse from cases where they may have conflicts of interest. They also are exempt from following an official code of conduct. Justices oftentimes fail to publicly disclose information about privately sponsored trips. With no ethics enforcement body, there is no way to ensure the Justices behave ethically.  

Some reforms that could make SCOTUS more ethical – and trustworthy by public standards – include:   

  • An internal ethics enforcement body. 

  • A code of conduct for the Supreme Court.  

  • Non-binding reviews of Justices’ recusals by the Judicial Conference. 

  • More disclosure requirements for privately sponsored travel. 

Public trust is a bedrock upon which all our democratic institutions rely – including the Supreme Court. The Court now has a golden opportunity to reassure the public that it understands this fundamental truth and will work towards becoming a more ethical branch of our federal government.