Senate Committee Approves Code Of Ethics For Supreme Court Justices

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary approved a proposal to establish a code of ethics for the U.S. Supreme Court. The Democratic measure is highly contested by Republican lawmakers.

Recent reports from ProPublica about undisclosed luxury gifts and travel accommodations accepted by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have sparked outrage. Many Americans and lawmakers have condemned the highest court in the land for not meeting basic ethical standards.

The proposal was sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). If passed by the upper chamber, the bill would establish new conflict of interest rules for the Supreme Court justices and other federal judges and would make such codes available to the public.

“People are angry about what’s going on at the court,” said Whitehouse during an NPR interview on Friday. “And one of the best bellwethers of that is how angry some of the other federal judges are who have to live under a proper ethics code and are perfect witnesses as to how the court has traveled out of bounds.”


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Many Republicans have criticized Democratic efforts to establish a code of conduct for the Supreme Court Justices. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has called the proposal a “bill to destroy a conservative court.”

The measure would give the court 180 days to adopt a code of conduct and allow the public to submit ethics complaints that would be reviewed by panels of lower court judges. It would need 60 votes in the full Senate to defeat a likely Republican filibuster, and would then need to pass through the GOP-led House.

Ava Lombardi

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