SCOTUS judges issue a code of conduct but no way to enforce it

The US Supreme Court poses for an official group photo

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 7: Supreme Court of the United States (front row left) Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Associate Justice Elena Kagan (back row left) . ) Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson pose for their official portrait in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court Building on October 7, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court of the United States has issued an official and long-awaited decision Code of Conduct for Judges Monday, just weeks after Justice Amy Coney Barrett publicly stated that all nine justices thought a code of ethics was “a good idea.”

Although the 14-page code details a range of ethical expectations, it conspicuously excludes any mention of enforcement mechanisms or penalties for violations. The legal community appears to be divided on the meaning of the omission; While some accuse the justices of fussing over a woefully ineffective set of ethical standards, others say a more forceful enforcement mechanism would be constitutionally impossible.

As the justices noted in their opening opinion, many of the code’s requirements are “not new” and reflect ethics rules from other sources, including those that apply to other members of the federal judiciary.

They further explained that their decision to issue a formal code of conduct was an attempt to correct a recent “misunderstanding” that the judges were acting “unconstrained by any ethics rules.” They said the code was merely a representation of the standards they had already adhered to.

More specifically, the code requires that judges maintain the independence of the federal judiciary, avoid all forms of impropriety and outside influence, act without bias or fear of criticism, recuse themselves from cases with which they are personally connected, and refrain from engaging in activities , who “impair the “dignity” of official duties and do not engage in political activity.

All nine judges have signed the new code.

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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