Trevor Potter Statement Reacting to Supreme Court Code of Conduct


Today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it has adopted a so-called "code of conduct" following recent allegations of ethics lapses. Trevor Potter, President of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a Republican Former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), released the following statement: 

“Campaign Legal Center has long advocated for the Supreme Court to engage in efforts to bind itself to a code of ethical conduct. At first glance, the 'ethics rules and principles that guide the conduct' of the Supreme Court, released on November 13, 2023, may seem like a step in the right direction, but the reality is that this statement by the Court does not constitute a binding ethics code or rule and does not satisfy basic principles of government ethics under any branch of government at any level.

The 'code' merely lays out principles that justices ‘should,’ but are not required to abide by. The lack of any true measure or method of enforcing this 'code' makes it clear that this is little more than an effort to assuage public outrage without assuming any actual accountability for ethics in our nation’s highest court.  

Every other branch of government has a dedicated body responsible for enforcing its ethics code, yet the Court does not even attempt to create one for itself here. This 'code' changes nothing about the existing system of ethics self-policing in the Supreme Court. In fact, buried at the end of the document, the Court says they may rely on a variety of sources in interpreting the requirements of the ethics code — business as usual.   

This 'code' manages to provide a lot of suggestions, but no dedicated entities or clear processes to interpret the code of conduct, investigate violations and enforce compliance. If this is the best the nine justices of the Supreme Court can do, then Congress must act to ensure actual accountability for ethics.”