President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court reform commission has had a tumultuous past month. A draft report’s warnings about court-packing upset liberals, while two conservatives resigned for reasons that remain unclear.
Ultimately, these issues symbolize the American people’s warped views of the “highest court in the land.” Too many Americans expect justices on their “team” to legislate from the bench, rather than simply interpret the law as the Constitution requires.
The answer to this polarization is not court-packing or confirming more pro-life judges. Instead, Congress should pass an ethics code for the Supreme Court.
A code of conduct for the justices would be fair, practical, and effective. Such a nonpartisan reform would not change the fundamental structure of the court. But it would constrain the justices from conducting partisan or unethical activities that undermine public faith in the court and the law. A code of conduct could have held Chief Justice John Roberts accountable when he did not recuse himself from a 2016 case involving a company in which he owned stock. And ethical guidelines could have penalized Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she told The New York Times in 2016, “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president.”
The reality is that the American people are losing faith in the Supreme Court as a neutral arbiter. In October, the court’s approval rating sunk to 40 percent, the lowest since Gallup began tracking this statistic in 2000. Over half of Americans disapprove of the court’s job performance. But an ethics code could rebuild public faith in the judiciary at this critical time.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
"Why the Supreme Court needs an ethics code"
That's the title of this interesting piece by Nicholas Rostow. The introduction: