Supreme Court: Why it’s difficult to rein in ethics rules for justices

The Supreme Court’s Elusive Challenge: Unraveling Ethics Rules for Justices

New Developments in Supreme Court Ethics Controversy

The latest ProPublica report on Clarence Thomas’ lavish lifestyle is causing a stir and reigniting calls for greater oversight of the Supreme Court. However, don’t expect reform to happen anytime soon. Congress lacks the appetite to pass legislation, and it’s unclear if the Justice Department has the authority to initiate prosecutions. To make matters worse, the justices themselves are resisting any attempts to impose a code of ethics on them.

Problematic Ethics Developments

Here’s a breakdown of the recent ethics controversies surrounding the Supreme Court:

1. Clarence Thomas: ProPublica revealed that Thomas failed to disclose luxury travel financed by his billionaire friend, Harlan Crow, a Republican donor. Additionally, Crow bought real estate from Thomas, which Thomas also failed to disclose.

2. Neil Gorsuch: Politico reported that Gorsuch sold nearly $2 million in real estate to the head of a law firm that argues cases in front of the court. Gorsuch failed to disclose this transaction properly, raising further concerns.

3. Samuel Alito: ProPublica discovered that Alito did not disclose a luxury trip he took in 2008, where a hedge fund billionaire flew him on a private jet. Later, the same businessman repeatedly asked the Supreme Court to intervene on his behalf.

Public Faith in the Supreme Court

While these controversies do not suggest any direct influence on behalf of the justices, they do raise questions about ethics and conflicts of interest. At a time when public faith in the Supreme Court is already low, these revelations only further erode trust in the institution.

Resistance to Change

Despite public opinion, bringing the Supreme Court to heel will be immensely difficult. Congress lacks the will to pass legislation, and the Justice Department’s authority to prosecute is uncertain. Moreover, the justices themselves are stubbornly resisting any attempts to impose a code of ethics on them.


The recent ethics controversies surrounding the Supreme Court have sparked renewed calls for oversight and reform. However, the road to change is filled with obstacles, including a lack of congressional appetite for legislation and resistance from the justices themselves. As public faith in the Supreme Court continues to wane, the need for transparency and accountability becomes increasingly urgent.Supreme Court Justices’ Failure to Disclose Raises Concerns About Ethics

A rare moment of unity occurred when conservative and liberal justices joined together to defend the current system of voluntary ethics guidelines. However, their statements have left many concerned that the rules are optional for them.

Congress has little chance of passing new legislation to implement tougher ethics standards on justices, as Republicans argue that it is up to the court, not Congress, to impose new rules. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans are strongly opposed to the bill, making it unlikely to pass the House.

Numerous good-government groups have called for new ethics rules for justices, citing violations of ethics law by Justice Thomas. However, there is very little oversight of the court, which further complicates the issue.

In an interview with Walter Shaub, former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, he expressed his concerns about the justices’ behavior and the culture of exceptionalism within the Supreme Court. He believes that their conduct is worse than other government officials and that they should be held to a code of ethics.

Read the full conversation with Shaub to gain insight into the issue and the potential implications for the Supreme Court.Compelling Title: The Supreme Court’s Unchecked Power: A Case of Absolute Corruption

Paragraph 1: The Supreme Court’s lifetime appointments and lack of accountability have allowed them to believe they are above the law. With no realistic means of holding them accountable, they continue to act as rulers rather than public servants.

Paragraph 2: Chief Justice John Roberts and the other justices refuse to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, claiming they voluntarily follow ethics rules. However, their statement suggests that no laws actually apply to them.

Paragraph 3: The Ethics in Government Act explicitly covers Supreme Court justices, requiring them to disclose gifts. Private plane flights and sea voyages cannot be classified as food, lodging, or entertainment, making them clear violations.

Paragraph 4: Impeachment and investigation by the Justice Department are potential avenues for accountability. Another option is pursuing civil monetary penalties against justices who have omitted gifts from their financial disclosure reports.

Paragraph 5: With multiple gifts omitted per report, even just two omissions per year for five years would result in 10 violations. The Civil Division at the Department of Justice could demand $71,000 in penalties for each omission.

By shedding light on the Supreme Court’s unchecked power and lack of accountability, it becomes clear that action must be taken to ensure they are held to the same standards as other federal judges. The American people deserve transparency and integrity from their highest court.Title: Unveiling the Disturbing Truth about Supreme Court Justices

Subtitle: Discover the Alarming Lack of Accountability and Ethics Among Our Highest Judicial Officials

Did you know that Supreme Court justices are not held accountable for their actions? Brace yourself as we delve into the shocking reality of their disdain for government ethics and anti-corruption laws. Prepare to be astounded by the implications this has on our justice system and the potential consequences it holds.

Section 1: The Bribery Statute Loophole
You won’t believe what the Supreme Court’s decision on Gov. McDonnell’s conviction revealed. By gutting the bribery statute, they inadvertently created a loophole that allows federal government officials to demand payment for meetings. Find out how this ruling undermines the very essence of our justice system.

Section 2: The Myth of Independence
Is the Supreme Court truly independent from the executive branch? We unravel the fallacy behind this notion and expose the potential power imbalance that arises when the Justice Department investigates members of the court. Prepare to question the integrity of our highest judicial officials.

Section 3: Unveiling the Absurdity
Imagine a Supreme Court justice involved in murder or embezzlement. Shockingly, state officials, not even the Department of Justice, would be responsible for investigating them. We shed light on the absurdity of the current system and the lack of accountability for these esteemed individuals.

Section 4: Outrageous Conflicts of Interest
Discover the outrageous truth about Supreme Court justices’ stock holdings and conflicts of interest. While they enjoy enormous salaries at taxpayer expense, they continue to engage in stock trading, creating potential ethical dilemmas. We explore the urgent need for stricter ethics rules and diversified mutual fund investments.

It’s time to confront the uncomfortable reality of our Supreme Court justices’ lack of accountability, transparency, and adherence to ethics rules. This eye-opening exposé reveals the urgent need for oversight and reform within our justice system. Join us as we demand a higher standard of integrity from those who hold the highest positions of power in our nation.Title: The Urgent Need for Stronger Ethics Rules in Government

In a country where the most powerful officials have the least accountability, it is time to address the glaring loopholes in our government’s ethics rules. This article sheds light on the need for stricter regulations, focusing on the Supreme Court justices and their spouses. Let’s explore why transparency and accountability should be the pillars of our democracy.

1. The Disproportionate Influence of Stock Ownership:
The majority of Americans do not own individual stocks, and even fewer hold significant shares. This raises the question: why should Supreme Court justices be allowed to own stocks when it can potentially create conflicts of interest?

2. Sacrificing Personal Investments for Public Service:
As a former government official, I have never owned a single stock. I firmly believe that investing in diversified mutual funds is a reasonable sacrifice for those in public service. It is time for the justices to follow suit.

3. The Need for Spousal Disclosure:
The spouses of justices, such as Ginni Thomas, Jane Sullivan Roberts, and Jesse Barrett, are politically active and involved in business. However, their financial disclosures lack transparency. It is crucial for spouses to disclose their employers, clients, and income amounts.

4. Holding Justices Accountable:
Supreme Court justices should be responsible for disclosing any cases before the court that may implicate their sources of income. This level of transparency ensures that their decisions are not influenced by personal financial interests.

5. The Inverted Ethics Hierarchy:
Our current ethics system is flawed, with the strictest rules applying to lower-level government officials in the executive branch. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court justices, followed by the president and members of Congress, face weaker regulations. This imbalance must be rectified.

6. The Insanity of Government Ethics:
The individuals with the most power to cause harm have the least accountability to the American people. This inversion of government ethics is unacceptable. In a republic, power should come from the people, necessitating greater disclosure and stricter requirements for those in positions of authority.

7. The Feudalistic Vestige:
Our current system is reminiscent of feudalism, where power was concentrated in the hands of a few. In a true republic, power should be derived from the people, demanding greater transparency and accountability from those in positions of power.

8. The Need for Clarity:
While Justice Gorsuch did not technically violate the disclosure law by not identifying the purchaser of a land, the Supreme Court’s commitment to transparency was compromised. It is essential to bridge the gap between legal requirements and the public’s expectations.

The lack of robust ethics rules for Supreme Court justices and their spouses is a pressing issue that demands immediate attention. Strengthening transparency and accountability in our government is crucial to upholding the principles of democracy. It is time to rectify the imbalances and ensure that those with the most power are held to the highest standards.
The Supreme Court’s Elusive Challenge: Unraveling Ethics Rules for Justices


The Supreme Court of the United States, often referred to as the highest court in the land, plays a crucial role in interpreting the Constitution and shaping the nation’s legal landscape. As guardians of justice, the justices are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards. However, the task of establishing and enforcing ethics rules for Supreme Court justices has proven to be an elusive challenge. This article delves into the complexities surrounding ethics rules for justices and the ongoing debate surrounding their applicability.

The Current State of Ethics Rules

Unlike other federal judges, Supreme Court justices are not bound by a formal code of conduct. Instead, they voluntarily adhere to a set of guidelines known as the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which applies to lower court judges. While the Supreme Court has adopted some provisions of this code, it is not binding on the justices. This lack of a comprehensive and enforceable code of ethics has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety.

Conflicts of Interest

One of the primary concerns surrounding ethics rules for Supreme Court justices is the potential for conflicts of interest. Justices are often required to recuse themselves from cases in which they have a personal or financial interest. However, the decision to recuse is left to the individual justice, leading to inconsistencies and a lack of transparency. Critics argue that a formal code of conduct would provide clearer guidelines and ensure impartiality in the decision-making process.

Financial Disclosures

Another area of contention is the financial disclosure requirements for Supreme Court justices. While lower court judges are required to disclose their financial holdings, the Supreme Court justices are not subject to the same level of scrutiny. This lack of transparency has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the influence of outside parties on the court’s decisions. Calls for greater financial disclosure requirements have grown louder in recent years, but the justices have been reluctant to embrace such changes.

Recusal and Political Bias

The issue of recusal and potential political bias has also come under scrutiny. Justices are expected to recuse themselves from cases in which they have expressed a bias or have a close relationship with one of the parties involved. However, the decision to recuse is left to the individual justice, leading to accusations of bias and favoritism. Critics argue that a clearer recusal standard would help maintain the court’s integrity and ensure fair and impartial decisions.

The Ongoing Debate

The debate surrounding ethics rules for Supreme Court justices is far from settled. Some argue that the lack of a formal code of conduct allows the justices to exercise their discretion and independence. They contend that imposing stricter rules could undermine the court’s ability to make impartial decisions. On the other hand, proponents of a formal code of conduct argue that it would enhance transparency, ensure consistency, and maintain public confidence in the court’s integrity.


The Supreme Court’s elusive challenge of unraveling ethics rules for justices remains a contentious issue. While the justices voluntarily adhere to certain guidelines, the absence of a comprehensive and enforceable code of conduct raises concerns about conflicts of interest, financial disclosures, and potential political bias. Striking the right balance between independence and accountability is a delicate task that requires careful consideration. As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court must continue to grapple with this challenge to uphold the principles of justice and maintain public trust in the judiciary.

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