Sen. Durbin reups call for a Supreme Court code of conduct amid ethics concerns

U.S. Supreme Court justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Elena Kagan pose for their group portrait at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2022. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin called on the Supreme Court to create a code of conduct as its new term begins Monday.

“The Supreme Court’s new docket, which begins today, should start with one essential element: re-establishing the integrity of the court,” Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement.

“The public reports of lavish gifts, luxury vacations, and sordid political relationships go to the heart of this court’s credibility,” Durbin said. “Failure by the court to establish a code of conduct makes these nine justices self-anointed royalty in our democracy.”

Durbin for about a dozen years has, without success, asked the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of conduct.

Supreme Court justices are the only federal judges who are exempt from the official ethics rules.

The Supreme Court has been under scrutiny this year because of media reports about justices receiving luxury travel, gifts, and other benefits.

Reports by ProPublica detailed how Justice Clarence Thomas was repeatedly a guest on billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow’s jet and yacht without disclosing that largesse.

Justice Samuel Alito traveled on billionaire Republican donor Paul Singer’s private plane without reporting that gift, and without recusing himself years later from a case where he ruled with a majority in favor of an arm of Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management involving billions of dollars in debt repayments from Argentina.

Durbin earlier this year asked Chief Justice John Roberts to appear before the Judiciary Committee to discuss Supreme Court ethics after the articles were first published.

Roberts denied the request.

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