Progressive lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would impose ethics standards on Supreme Court justices, Truthout reports.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced a bill that would ban federal judges from trading individual stocks and impose ethics restrictions on gifts and political activity.
The Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act would require Supreme Court justices to adhere to the court’s Code of Conduct. It is currently the only court that isn’t bound by ethics guidelines.
“At a time when public trust in the Supreme Court has collapsed to historic lows, it’s critical that we enact legislation to reform this broken system,” Warren said in a statement. “From banning federal judges from owning individual stocks to overhauling the broken judicial recusal process, my bill would help root out corruption and restore public trust in the federal judiciary – something that Chief Justice [John] Roberts has simply failed to do.”
The bill would require justices to issue a written recusal decision when requested by litigants and the Judicial Conference, which oversees federal courts, would have to issue an advisory opinion on the decision.
The provision is particularly relevant amid Democratic criticism of Justice Clarence Thomas refusing to recuse from an election-related case even as his wife sought to overturn the result.
Ethics watchdogs praise:
The bill has already drawn six co-sponsors in the Senate and 13 in the House.
Ethics watchdogs praised the legislation.
“The American people have lost faith in the federal judiciary,” said Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act goes a long way to fixing that, taking immediate steps to end financial conflicts of interest and overhauling the Supreme Court’s broken judicial recusal regime. Democracy simply does not work when a judicial system is viewed with suspicion. It is past time for Congress to act to rebuild trust in our judicial system and make clear that judges are not above the law.”