Amy Coney Barrett Expresses Support for Ethics Code

Amy Coney Barrett Expresses Support for Ethics Code

( – The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has faced mounting pressure over its ethics practices in the wake of recent revelations that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. failed to report luxury travel and other gifts on their required annual disclosure forms. Likewise, Justice Sonia Sotomayor faced ethical questions regarding her taxpayer-funded staff members’ practice of urging public institutions and event hosts to purchase her memoir, “My Beloved World,” and children’s books.

On July 20, the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance a reform measure, the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023 (S. 359), along partisan lines by a vote of 11 to 10. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the measure on February 9. Thirty-three Democratic senators co-sponsored the legislation along with Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

It appears unclear if the bill will gain traction in the Senate, and it remains doubtful the Republican-led House would consider the measure. However, Justice Amy Coney Barrett recently indicated her support for the creation of an ethics code by the nation’s highest court.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett Conveys Support for Supreme Court Ethics Code

Justice Barrett discussed the recent calls for the adoption of an ethics code for the Supreme Court during a wide-ranging interview conducted at the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus on October 16.

“It would be a good idea” for the Justices to create one “so that we can communicate to the public what it is that we’re doing.” Justice Barrett told longtime law professor and former American Bar Association chief operating officer Robert Stein.

Justice Barrett explained that “all nine justices” are committed to holding themselves to the “highest ethical standards possible.” She said she couldn’t say precisely when the nation’s highest court would develop one or what its contents might include. However, she held fast to her desire to see the panel accomplish that feat in a timely manner.

Justice Barrett also discussed various aspects of serving on the bench, ranging from her relations with other justices to being the first panelist to serve while raising minor children. She explained that the court members express their differences “on paper,” not through their personal relationships. She recounted Justice Sotomayor making Halloween treat bags for her children shortly after her Senate confirmation in October 2020. She also discussed hiring a Broadway actor to serenade Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson at a party she hosted for the incoming panelist in 2022.

Turning to her role as a parent, Justice Barrett talked about missing luncheon with the other justices due to a pressing childcare issue. However, she stressed that she faced the same challenges as most working mothers.

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