It's more of a pledge, though, as there is no apparent enforcement mechanism. But, it is a first step — and a reminder that public pressure works.
OK, many folks disagree with this. First: If I had it to do over again, I would have added in part of the subhead somehow into the headline — about the unenforceability — to make absolutely clear everywhere that I don't think this is sufficient. But, obviously, the piece from the subhead forward makes that clear.
The bottom line is: Go for it, keep pushing the court. I will, likely within days. I'm not saying this is good; I explicitly say it's not sufficient. But, I don't think it's meaningless. I think saying it is gives in in a way that is not helpful to holding the court accountable.
Even an unenforceable code isn’t meaningless. They blinked. It’s an admission against interest. Use it. This is an institution that refused live audio until a global pandemic! This movement from the court — as small as it is — is due to reporting and advocacy and public pressure. It’s a crack that shows — despite Alito's whining — how reasonable (and effective) the reporting and advocacy about the court's ethics failures have been.
I'm not sure why those seeking to reform the court or those seeking to hold the court accountable wouldn't take this as the clear win it is — the court, fundamentally, did not want to acknowledge this, and yet, on Monday, the justices did — and use it to keep pushing for more.
There will be reporting — here and elsewhere (including above) — about how insufficient or outright bad some of the specifics are. There will be reporting on how this could be used as an excuse to "clear" certain questionable behavior — and how certain other behavior wouldn't even meet this low bar. It gives us something to use. And yes, as someone noted in comments, someone should redline this to craft what they view as a better goal for a code of conduct.
I see this as a tool for moving forward, and, again, an admission against interest — not a solution in any way. In any event, I do appreciate the pushback! Come for me when you think I'm wrong; it keeps me on my toes, helps me think through my thoughts, and sometimes gets me to change my views.
For the time being, the enforcement mechanism is us. Keep pushing, you all.
So, no enforcement mechanism, no penalties for breach, and no reference as to who is responsible for enforcement.
I would love to see the Senate Judiciary Committee treat this as a redline and send back their edits.
If there is no enforcement and no oversight by an outside unbiased monitor, then this is an unacceptable code. This is even worse with the impropriety that has been the norm for Thomas and Alito over the past decades.
Their Code of Conduct is meaningless if it is not enforced.
Pack the court!
A code of conduct without an enforcement mechanism is worse than no code at all. A code creates expectations that those who violate it will be held accountable, and that there will be an adjudication process, even if it's internal. (Ideally it would be transparent, but that's never going to happen.) It may be viewed as a pledge, but a pledge to do what? There's no indication that even a slap on the wrist will happen. Many are guilted into adopting pledges, but hopefully people will not take the Supreme Court's code as an inspiration to adopt something so toothless and so unwilling to face accountability. (I create codes of conduct with reporting and investigation processes, so it's not my first rodeo with this subject: what I create ends with accountability. I also HT you here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:share:7130284534675243010/)
The opening statement is ill advised. The Supreme Court comes off as arrogant and a bit clueless. Probably required to get Thomas and Alito (someone else?) to sign on. Still bad.
Curious about the differences between the SCOTUS and run of the mill judge rules. All cannot be explained by the "special situation of SCOTUS."
I am dubious that a constitutional system that allows for recused justices to be replaced is not possible especially if retired justices are involved. Use of "duty to sit" as excuse is b.s. Few cases even matter there. They can and did find means to address that even in leading cases.
Better than nothing but thin gruel. I appreciate Chuck Schumer et. al. (didn't see Dick Durbin yet) highlighting the lack of enforcement. Art. I, sec. 8, cl. 18 (Necessary and Proper Clause) gives Congress a role there. Time for the Senate to vote on the ethics bill & the subpoena of Leo and Crow.
One more thing. It would have been helpful if Roberts took the Senate Judiciary Committee up on meeting. Instead we get a sentence press release and individual justices making general comments in interviews. One option maybe is a designated spokesperson who answer general questions.
It’s pathetic SCOTUS has to be pressured into complying. America looks to them for justice.
They are liars and thieves. There needs to be resignations by them.
I'm inclined to agree with the other commenters calling this meaningless for all the reasons already listed (no enforcement mechanism, no consequences for violation). This is a symbolic gesture at a moment where symbolism rings as hollow as the inside of a church bell. If it's possible for billionaires to buy Supreme Court justices and there are no consequences for either party for doing so, then any code to that effect is worth less than the storage space on whatever server it's saved on. This is like a kid misbehaving in the grocery store while their hapless parents run behind them wagging their finger and telling them "You just wait until we get home!" They already shat on the floor and knocked over the pyramid of grapes. It's too late.
You were expecting a code in the legal sense of the word? The Supreme Court code is apparently meant in the sense of the Code of the West. As outlined by Zane Grey, it includes provisions such as:
* Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.
* Defend yourself whenever necessary.
* Look out for your own.
SCOTUS offered a foolish, unenforceable ethics code that doesn't merit appeasement for a just and fair public Code of Ethics for the SCOTUS members. This basically tells us that they believe themselves above any credible behavioral laws or regulations. We, the people, believe that all are created equally under the law of these United States, this includes the SCOTUS members. Their clear violations of the Federal Judges code of ethics should be enough for Congress to charge the guilty member(s) of federal crimes and pave the way for a code of ethics written by Congress and voted on by the people to institutionalize it as uncontrovertible law.
It would be interesting to see how the activities in which Justice Thomas engaged over the years would be treated under these canons.
It’s a nothing burger.
My view is that any formal code of ethics--especially a first effort that fills a vacuum--must succeed in one key way at the outset. Specifically, it must create a common language of ethical obligations and constraints so that we can expressly state, with reference to a code, what a professional has done wrong. This new code is far from perfect, but it has checked that box on the critical path to defining and deterring ethical violations. This code, which ultimately can be buttressed by action in all three branches of the federal government, overcomes that low bar.