SCOTUS Ethics Legislation Advances in Congress

SCOTUS Ethics Legislation Advances in Congress

( – Legislation has advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee that would mandate the implementation of an ethics code by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Amid growing skepticism of the court from Democrats, concerns have risen about Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and his association with real estate developer and GOP donor Harlan Crow, who bestowed the justice with numerous unreported gifts.

In a statement, Thomas asserted that receiving “personal hospitality from close personal friends” was within acceptable bounds and that the gift guidelines did not necessitate the disclosure of the previous gifts.

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act (SCERT) is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Given the slim 51-49 Democratic Senate majority, Democrats now hold a narrow 11-10 control over Senate committees, which led to the bill’s advancement through the Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines. Republican lawmakers introduced amendments covering protests at Supreme Court justices’ homes, measures on leaking draft opinions, and regulations for reporters covering the SCOTUS.

However, out of all the amendments proposed, only one managed to pass successfully. Republican Sen. John Kennedy’s amendment, which aimed to denounce allegedly racist attacks against current and former justices, passed unanimously. The bill’s passage will face difficulty in the Democratic Senate, and it would likely fail if sent to the Republican House.

All cosponsors of the plan listed in the legislation are Democratic Senators. The bill would require that the SCOTUS issue a code of conduct, that the Judicial Conference of the United States create a code of conduct for the appeals, district, and international trade courts, and that both codes should be publicly accessible. Moreover, the bill would establish a procedure for addressing judicial misconduct and create stricter regulations regarding the disclosure of gifts.

As the SCERT Act continues through the legislative process, its far-reaching implications for the future of the U.S. judicial system draw the support of Democrats and the opposition of Republicans.

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