Senate Judiciary Committee advances Supreme Court ethics bill


The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to advance legislation that would require the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code. Called the ‘Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act,’ the bill from lead sponsor Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse cleared the committee along party lines, 11-10. It is not expected to get the 60 votes required to advance on the Senate floor, and if so, it is likely fail in the GOP-controlled House.

Democrats followed  through on their pledge for legislative action after a series of reports about Justice Clarence Thomas’ relationship with a Republican real estate magnate. A Pro Publica report revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas had accepted vacations and travel from a Republican mega donor; while Justice Samuel Alito has also faced criticism for alleged ethics violations.

Republicans introduced several amendments touching on the protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, the leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court expansion and imposing new rules on reporters who cover the high court.

The legislation has backing from more than two dozen Senate Democrats, and would require the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct for the justices and implement procedures to handle complaints of judicial misconduct. It would also require the high court to impose more rigorous rules for the disclosure of gifts, travel and income received by the justices and their law clerks.

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles /