Updated 07/21/2023 at 10:30 a.m. ET:
Calling out the Supreme Court used to be taboo in politics. But as the ethics scandals continue to pile up, we’re finally seeing significant efforts in Washington to hold the justices accountable. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would impose sweeping ethics standards on the Supreme Court justices.
Now that the bill has passed the committee, it will move on to a vote from the entire Senate, where it’s sure to face massive GOP opposition. The bill, which would “adopt a code of conduct” for the Supreme Court, among other measures, passed entirely along party lines in committee. And Republicans voiced heavy opposition to enforcing ethics standards on the Supreme Court.
“This is a bill not designed to make the court stronger or more ethical. This is a bill to destroy a conservative court,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the committee’s top Republican, said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Graham’s arguments fall somewhat flat in the face of a seemingly endless wave of scandals emerging from the court. Shocking Reporting from ProPublica, Politico, and The Associated Press has uncovered a web of ethically questionable relationships between members of the Supreme Court and wealthy donors, law firm heads, and billionaires with cases before the court. (The Root created a guide to all of the ethics scandals if you want to check it out).
Still, none of the recent revelations have been enough to convince Republicans that the Supreme Court needs tighter regulations. As we’ve previously written about, The Supreme Court isn’t even held to the ethics regulations required of all other federal judges. The lax ethical standards for Supreme Court Justices have made it much more challenging to hold them accountable for actions that would be a clear ethical violation in any other court.
Without the support of any Republicans, we’re unlikely to see this bill pass the Senate or the Republican-controlled House. But it’ll be difficult for Republicans to completely ignore growing concerns over the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as we approach an election for control of Congress.