The Most Problematic Parts Of The SCOTUS Code of Conduct Are The Last Two Sentences Of The Statement
On Monday, the Supreme Court released a Code of Conduct. As could be predicted, this document did not satisfy the Court’s critics. Almost immediately, the document was torn apart: the Justices used “should” instead of “must”; there is no enforcement mechanism; the recusal rules are too loose; and so on. Personally, I am ambivalent about the Code. I firmly believe that all of the Justices try their level best to maintain the highest standards of ethics, and no parchment barriers will affect those duties. Indeed, that duty must come from within, as reflected by the constitutional and judicial oaths they take.
Still, I found problematic one aspect of the Code–or to be more precise, the preface to the code. The first page of the document is labeled the “Statement of the Court,” which presumably was joined by all nine members. (Then again, the Chief Justice sent a letter to Senator Durbin that presumably only he wrote.) The Statement purports to lay out the genesis of the Conduct of Conduct. Pay attention to the last two sen
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