The Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have come back at Chief Justice John Roberts and are demanding that he answer questions about SCOTUS ethics.
On April 25, you sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee declining an invitation to appear, or to designate a Justice to appear, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the Supreme Court’s approach to ethics matters. It is noteworthy that no Justice will speak to the American people after numerous revelations have called the Court’s ethical standards into question, even though sitting Justices have testified before Senate or House Committees on at least 92 occasions since 1960.
Your letter states that “[i]n regard to the Court’s approach to ethics matters, I attach a Statement of Ethics Principles and Practices to which all of the current Members of the Supreme Court subscribe.” The statement of principles raises more questions than it resolves, and we request that you respond to several key questions. Your answers will inform the Committee’s work on legislation that seeks to ensure that the ethical obligations and practices of the Justices are at least on par with those that govern the rest of the federal judiciary and the federal government generally. We request that you provide these answers by May 1, so that they may be discussed during the Committee’s hearing the following day.
1. On what date did the Justices subscribe to the Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices that you attached to your letter, and had the Justices subscribed to any previous statement of ethics principles and practices before that date? If so, please provide any such statement.
2. The Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices notes that “[i]n 1991, Members of the Court voluntarily adopted a resolution to follow the substance of the Judicial Conference Regulations.” Does the Court currently require unanimity among the Justices in order to adopt a resolution to follow the substance of ethics regulations?
3. The Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices provides that “Justices, like other federal judges, consult a wide variety of authorities to address specific ethical issues.” What guidance do Justices receive on which authorities to consult, and how is this consultation process and any final decision on a particular matter documented?
4. The Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices provides that “[a]llegations of errors or omissions in the filing of financial disclosure reports are referred by the Secretary of the Judicial Conference to the Committee on Financial Disclosure. The Committee may send the filer a letter of inquiry, providing an opportunity for the filer to respond as appropriate.” What is the consequence, if any, for a sitting Justice who does not respond as appropriate to such a letter of inquiry?
5. Has there ever been any censure, reprimand, admonition, sanction, or other penalty imposed on a Justice for failure to abide by any of the principles and practices now contained in the Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices If so, what types of penalties have been, or may be, imposed? Is there a process by which the public may file, and the Supreme Court may receive, complaints that a Justice has failed to abide by these principles?
For More Stories Like This, Subscribe To Our Newsletter:
Those are some very important questions. Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats aren’t letting Chief Justice Roberts skate with just a flat-out no in response to their request that he testify at the Judiciary Committee hearing.
The Senators really want to know if the voluntary ethics agreement that Roberts referred to has any teeth. If it doesn’t, they want to know why.
The Senate is not letting the wave of corruption being carried out by members of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court go.
Clarence Thomas is getting closer to being investigated, and the Senate wants to know what is happening at the Supreme Court.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association