Amy Coney Barrett Supports SCOTUS Ethics Code

( – The Supreme Court is the ultimate guardian of the Constitution and US law. That means its justices need to display the highest standards of ethics and professional conduct. Unfortunately, in the past, it hasn’t always met those standards. One of them thinks the court needs a formal code of conduct to make sure it’s all we expect it to be.

On October 16, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett spoke at the University of Minnesota Law School. While there she was asked about a Democrat-sponsored bill, the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, which would impose a binding code of conduct on the Supreme Court. Barrett was nominated for the Court by former president Donald Trump and has a reputation as one of the more conservative justices, so the questioner probably expected her to oppose the bill. If so, they were in for a surprise.

Barrett said she thought a binding ethics code “would be a good idea,” and pointed out that it would let the Court tell the public what it was doing “in a clearer way.” However, she also stressed that the nine justices are already “committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct.” Some justices — for example, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — have faced criticism for failing to report gifts from people who have brought cases before the Court, but none of them have been found guilty of breaking the ethics rules that apply to all US judges.

Barrett also talked about how the Court’s often fiery disagreements only take place on paper, in its rulings and dissenting opinions. In person, she said, all the justices get on well, have lunch together, and give gifts to each other’s children. She admitted her job “has its ups and downs,” but said it’s a privilege to serve. It’s good to know she also feels that the people with that privilege should be held to the highest standards.

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