After the revelations of Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s texts calling to overturn the 2020 Presidental election and Thomas’ ruling in a Trump document case, many have been calling to revise ethics concerning Supreme Court Justices. On Wednesday, The House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would require the Supreme Court to “create a code of conduct that would apply to both the justices and their employees,” The Hill reports.
Supreme Court justices are the only judges inside the federal judiciary who are exempt from any ethics policies. The bill, which passed among party lines, would impose limits on the Supreme Court justices, such as new recusal standards for when a judge should not sit on a case because of a conflict. Currently, justices recuse themselves voluntarily. It also requires new transparency around those filing amicus, or friend-of-the-court briefs and requires the Supreme Court to set rules for disclosing gifts and income that justices and law clerks receive.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) pointed to “recent ethical lapses by justices appointed by presidents from both parties underscores the urgent need for this legislation.”
“The Supreme Court is one of the nation’s most vital institutions and its fidelity to equal and impartial justice, as well as the public’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary, are foundational to maintaining the rule of law,” he added.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) attempted to push back against Democrats, “saying this isn’t about ethics. This is an insurance policy for them when things don’t go their way. They want to have the tools at their disposal to make life hard for the justices. Whether that means seeking recusals, seeking impeachment, or just showing up at their house and protesting.”
However, Democrats pointed explicitly to what has happened surrounding Justice Thomas to “create a commonsense ethics standard for our nation’s highest court.”
“To be clear I do not expect Justice Thomas to recuse himself from cases because his spouse has a particular point of view,” Nadler said. “I expect him to recuse when he knows or even reasonably suspects his wife’s communications appear in the records that President Trump sought to withhold from Congress.”