House panel advances bill requiring Supreme Court to develop code of ethics

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced an ethics bill that would require the Supreme Court to “create a code of conduct that would apply to both the justices and their employees” in response to controversy involving Justice Clarence Thomas.

The bill passed along party lines by a 22-16 vote and will now go to the full House for consideration. The Supreme Court justices are currently the only judges in the federal judiciary who are not subject to such ethics policies, according to Bloomberg Law.

In a statement issued shortly after the legislation was advanced, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said “recent ethical lapses by justices appointed by presidents from both parties underscores the urgent need of this legislation.”

“The Supreme Court is one of the nation’s most vital institutions and its fidelity to equal and impartial justice, as well as the public’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary, are foundational to maintaining the rule of law,” he added.

Nadler also took a stab at the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, saying they all voted against “creating a commonsense ethics standard for our nation’s highest court.”

He added that ethical lapses include Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from cases challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election even as, reports later revealed, his wife, Ginni Thomas, was lobbying former President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows to find a way to keep Trump in power and was present at the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol riot.

According to Nadler, it is “shocking” that any member of Congress would be opposed to creating a code of ethics that he said is consistent with those followed by other public officials for the Supreme Court.

“Republicans on this committee have voted against greater accountability and transparency at one of our nation’s most secretive, but consequential, institutions. Democrats will continue our work to strengthen the judiciary system through commonsense ethics reforms so the American people can have faith in the impartiality of our federal judges and justices.”

However, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) pushed back during his opening remarks and said that the Democrats are trying to move legislation that “burdens the Supreme Court with layers of bureaucracy.”

He added that “this isn’t about ethics. This is an insurance policy for them when things don’t go their way. They want to have the tools at their disposal to make life hard for the justices. Whether that means seeking recusals, seeking impeachment or just showing up at their house and protesting.”

Tags Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas Ethics Ginni Thomas Ginni Thomas house Jerry Nadler Jerry Nadler Jim Jordan Supreme Court Trump

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