In a rare move, all nine supreme court justices issued a statement in response to the call for more oversight into their general conduct, as well as a new enforceable ethics code.
On Tuesday, the nine justices issued a statement, continuing to swear their voluntary allegiance to the general code of conduct already set in place, but are squarely against the kind of independent oversight, mandatory compliance, and transparency which is already the case with judges on the federal level.
In particular, the statement made mention of the Justices’ own in-house checks and balances, saying they “consult a wide variety of authorities to address specific ethical issues.”
Furthermore, the statement claims to “provide new clarity to the bar and to the public on how justices address certain recurring issues and also seeks to dispel some common misconceptions.”
The misconceptions the justices are referring to may have everything to do with a recent call to arms over personal conduct amongst justices that the general public deems problematic.
In particular, Justice Clarence Thomas has come under fire for numerous luxury trips he took with his wife, which were funded by Republican megadonor, Harlan Crow.
In response to the raised hackles of critics and opponents of Thomas, he issued a statement explaining away the alleged dalliance as a commonplace occurrence. Speaking to the relationship between the Thomas and Crows, Thomas called them “among our dearest friends”; and said that, after consulting with his colleagues and those in the federal judiciary, it was determined that “this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”
A nonprofit investigative journalism organization, ProPublica, noted that in Thomas’ 31 years as a justice, he has been the beneficiary of luxury trips from Crow for more than 20 years.
Meanwhile, Justice Neil Gorsuch also came under fire after failing to disclose the buyer in a real estate deal he engaged in. Politico revealed that the buyer was a lawyer whose firm has put roughly 22 cases before the court after the sale of the property.
According to a recent Gallup poll, public confidence in the supreme court is at its lowest in more than 20 years.