House

Pelosi calls for Supreme Court code of ethics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said the Supreme Court should have a code of ethics.

Pelosi is the latest lawmaker to come out in support of rules overseeing the high court amid controversy regarding text messages Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“The justice of the Supreme Court has to at least have a code of ethics, A, and B, why should they have lower standards than members of Congress in terms of reporting and the rest?” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference Thursday.

The Speaker specifically said she would like Congress to pull out the section of H.R. 1, known as the For the People Act, that directs the Judicial Conference to issue a code of conduct for all justices and judges in the U.S. The House passed the voting rights legislation in January, but it stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.

Pelosi said she wants that portion of the bill to get a hearing.

“In our H.R. 1. our bill to have cleaner government, we have called for the Supreme Court to have a code of ethics. They have no code of ethics. And really? It’s the Supreme Court of the United States, they’re making judgments about the air we breathe and everything else, and we don’t even know what their ethical standard is?” Pelosi said.

“So I would like to see that bill have a hearing. Not the whole bill, but taking out that piece, we’ve already passed the whole bill, but to focus on the Supreme Court ethics standard legislation,” she added. 

The House Speaker said there will “perhaps” be a hearing on the issue “pretty soon.”

The push for a code of ethics overseeing the Supreme Court has grown in recent days amid controversy involving Justice Thomas’s wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas. Reports surfaced last week that revealed Ginni Thomas sent text messages to Meadows regarding efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

A number of Democratic lawmakers have called for Thomas to recuse himself from cases related to the Jan. 6., 2021 Capitol riot that come before the Supreme Court amid the controversy, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Pelosi on Thursday appeared to suggest that she thinks the justice should consider recusal.

“People say from time to time well, it’s a personal decision of a judge as to whether he should recuse himself. Well, if your wife is an admitted and proud contributor to a coup of our country, maybe you should weigh that in your ethical standards,” she told reporters.

Some Democrats are going a step further, saying Thomas should resign amid the text message fallout. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said the justice should resign or face impeachment.

Asked if she agrees with her colleagues, Pelosi said, “I don’t think he should have ever been appointed.”

Tags Clarence Thomas Nancy Pelosi

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