February 2023 Church & State Magazine - February 2023

AU Joins Letter Urging Senate To Reform Supreme Court Ethics

 

Americans United joined more than 100 public policy organizations in December warning members of the U.S. Senate that they must act swiftly to enact a series of reforms to ensure high ethical standards at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The letter to members of the U.S. Senate notes that The New York Times has recently reported about a series of issues at the court, including allegations that Christian Nationalist interest groups have forged inappropriate relationships with some of the justices and might have received early notice about pending decisions.

“We urge you to take immediate action launching an investigation into these and other reports that call into question the ethical standards to which Supreme Court justices are held,” reads the letter. “Additionally, we urge swift legislative action to implement judicial ethics reforms for the Supreme Court, and the continued prioritization of the confirmation of fair-minded federal judicial nominees who will respect and uphold the rights of all people, not just the powerful few.”

The letter urges Congress “to pass judicial ethics legislation as soon as possible to bolster accountability and transparency and enhance public trust in our judiciary.” It notes that while all other federal judges are required to follow the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a set of ethical guidelines codified and enforced by the U.S. Judicial Conference, Supreme Court justices merely use the Code for “guidance.” 

Asserts the letter, “With confidence in the Supreme Court at an all-time low and our democracy in peril, Congress must act in the absence of the Court doing so voluntarily.”

The letter also recommends that members of the Senate “continue to confirm more ethical, fair-minded, and highly-qualified judicial nominees who possess a demonstrated record of protecting the rights of all people.”

The letter was spearheaded by Alliance for Justice, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Women’s Law Center, and People For the American Way.  

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