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Friday, September 9, 2011

43 Members of Congress Call for Hearings on Supreme Court Ethics Reform

Today, Congressman Chris Murphy and 42 of his colleagues called on the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the need for Supreme Court ethics reform. Their open letter to committee leaderhsip noted that the alarming behavior of some justices, such as attending political events and fundraisers, “undermine the integrity of the entire judiciary, and they should not be allowed to continue.”

The House members urged the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing to consider the Supreme Court Transparency and Accountability Act, which would require Supreme Court justices to follow the same ethical rules as all other federal judges, and reform the Court’s recusal process. The full text of the House members’ letter is available here.

In March, AFJ President Nan Aron joined with Congressman Murphy to announce the Supreme Court Transparency and Accountability Act. Since then, the issue has continued to draw public and media attention.

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times Caucus Blog has this on today's Dear Colleague letter. The letter is the latest in mounting calls for Supreme Court ethics reform. As Lichtblau notes:
The notion of imposing higher ethics standards on the Supreme Court appears to be gaining momentum among House Democrats and outside legal scholars, but its prospects in the Republican-controlled House are still uncertain.
Calls for ethics reform have increased as more and more accounts of ethically questionable conduct by some of the justices continue to be revealed. The NYT Caucus Blog reported that:
Justice Thomas has received the most recent scrutiny not only for his appearances before Republican-backed groups, but also for his acceptance of favors from a prominent conservative contributor in Texas, Harlan Crow, and his wife’s work as an advocate for conservative legal causes.
Alliance for Justice has been a leader in calling for Supreme Court ethics reform. AFJ’s upcoming film A Question of Integrity: Politics, Ethics, and the Supreme Court, narrated by actor, director, and activist Edward James Olmos, will explore the increasing politicization of the Court, and calls on viewers to support changes to help protect public confidence in the Court. Click here to learn more about Supreme Court ethics reform.

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