Schumer criticizes Supreme Court’s new ethics code for ‘glaring omission’ – LSB

Top Democrats pressing the Supreme Court to adopt a new code of conduct appear dissatisfied after the court’s unprecedented announcement of a new code of conduct, saying the code alone is not enough.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “It is long past time to have a code of conduct that explicitly applies to judges,” he said, adding that “not having any way to enforce the code if any justice decides to ignore it is a glaring omission.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the new rules “fall short” of what Congress “can and should expect,” though many Republicans said Democrats’ efforts would be unconstitutional.

“I am still reviewing the court’s new code of conduct,” Durbin said. “At this time, I will note that the court’s adoption of this rule represents a step in the right direction.”

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Senator Charles Schumer, left; Chief Justice John Roberts, right

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Chief Justice John Roberts (Getty Images)

“He may not meet the ethical standards held by other federal judges, and that is unacceptable,” he said. “If he fails, the American people will ultimately have the final say, and the integrity of the court will be at stake.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., echoed that sentiment in comments via a video on X, formerly Twitter, calling the law a “first step” and pushing for implementation rules imposed by Congress.

But Republican Judiciary Committee member Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said: “It is the role of the court — not Congress — to determine how it will operate as an independent and coequal branch of government.”

“Senate Democrats’ efforts — including the recent subpoena charade — are nothing more than an attempt to delegitimize the Court as an institution, simply because they disagree with its recent decisions,” she said.

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Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C. on March 15, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Blackburn added that the committee should focus its efforts on “protecting the safety” of judges and their families “given the threats from the far left” they have faced in recent months.

Last week, Democrats on the committee attempted authorization Subpoenas for ordinary citizens for their connections to some of the justices on the court, but after Republicans responded by threatening to seek subpoenas for things like Jeffrey Epstein’s private plane data, Democrats appeared to bristle at the idea.

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Supreme Court justices line up for a photo

Members of the Supreme Court are, from left, Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh. (Collection of the United States Supreme Court via Getty Images)

The nine justices on Tuesday issued an unprecedented code of conduct, along with a statement that said: “For the most part these rules and principles are not new: the Court has long had the equivalent of a common law code of ethics, that is, a set of rules drawn from a variety of From sources, including legal provisions, and the law that applies to others Members of the federal judiciaryand Ethics Advisory Opinions of the Judicial Conference Committee on Codes of Conduct and Historical Practice.”

“The lack of a code has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the judges of this court, unlike all other jurists in this country, consider themselves not bound by any ethical rules,” they said.

The judges added: “To dispel this misunderstanding, we have issued this Code, which is largely a codification of the principles which we have long held to govern our conduct.”

The law is a set of five “rules,” including two new provisions that appear to be a response to reports about travel arrangements for private trips made by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas that were paid for by others, and the use of court staff to promote the book — a reference to a recent report on staff Justice Sonia Sotomayor urges colleges and libraries to purchase her latest book.

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The United States Supreme Court building on a sunny day

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C (AP Photo/Jacqueline Martin)

But Durbin responded with thinly veiled criticism, saying: “After years of refusal to act, a series of scandalous disclosures involving several of the court’s justices, and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of ethics reform legislation sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Supreme Court has finally responded.”

“Today, for the first time in history, the Supreme Court of the United States is at least saying to the American people: We hear you,” he declared.

Durbin said he “will carefully review the proposed code of conduct to evaluate whether it is consistent with our goal that the nation’s highest court not suffer from the lowest level of ethics in our federal government,” adding that it “begins a dialogue that can and ends by restoring the integrity of the court.”

Carrie Severino, president of JCN and a former staffer for Justice Thomas, predicted Tuesday that she doubts the law “will please Senate Democrats and their liberal dark money backers, because their campaign has never been about ethics, but rather intimidation of the court it despises.” “For his loyalty to the Constitution.”

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Justice Sotomayor close-up

Justice Sonia Sotomayor during an official mass photo session at the Supreme Court on October 7, 2022. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Committee Democrats pushed to pass the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act., Which would have required the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct, establish a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws, update disclosure and transparency when a judge has a connection to a party or amicus before the court, and require judges to Explaining their decisions to resign For the public.

But it drew sharp criticism from Republicans, including Sen. John Kennedy, R-Los Angeles, who said the measure would be “as dead as fried chicken,” indicating that he did not believe the measure would get the 60 votes needed to advance. In the Senate chamber.

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He also said the legislation is intended to be a “killing machine for the court.”

“Any jackal in America who wears a tinfoil hat, and whose dog thinks he’s a complete idiot, will be allowed to file a motion to dismiss a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.”


“Now, what could go wrong? And my fellow Democrats know it,” he said.

Kennedy said the bill is “dangerous, but not serious.”

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