Supreme Court Adopts Ethics Code For Justices


Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP / Getty Images

The United States Supreme Court released an ethical code of conduct on Monday (November 13). The first-of-its-kind code of conduct for the High Court comes amid several controversies over the lack of an ethical code that Justices must adhere to.

While most of the rules aren't new, the Justices said the lack of a formal code "has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the justices of this court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules."

"The undersigned justices are promulgating this Code of Conduct to set out succinctly and gather in one place the ethics rules and principles that guide the conduct of the Members of the Court," the Justices said in a statement.

The new code says that Justices should "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety" both on and off the bench. It advises them to avoid discussing matters before the court during public appearances and says Justices should not use their staff to help them with private matters, such as selling and promoting their books.

"A Justice should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence official conduct or judgment," the code states. "A Justice should neither knowingly lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the Justice or others nor knowingly convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the Justice."

Justices will be required to file financial disclosure forms, which will be handled by the court's Office of Legal Counsel and the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts' Financial Disclosure Committee.

The code of conduct does not include any details about how it will be enforced.

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