Democrats Drill Republicans By Hitting Them In The Koch With Supreme Court Ethics Bill

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Since America is supposed to be a nation of laws, even though those laws are not enforced universally, the people expect the judiciary to be impartial, transparent and adhere to the highest ethical standards. For all but nine American judges, the nation’s judiciary is held to high ethical standards because they have to adhere to a “judicial code of conduct.” Perhaps it is because they are appointed for life, or are completely exempt from adhering to any kind of ethics code, conservative Supreme Court Justices have blatantly flouted ethical standards every federal judge in America is required to follow.

For the second time in as many years, Democratic legislators in Congress are calling on the Supreme Court to finally, at long last, adopt a code of ethics for Supreme Court Justices to rein in conservative Justices working for conservative, corporate, and religious groups. The bill, “The Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2015″ that was recently reintroduced would to media silence, if passed by the Koch brothers’ Congress, requires the Supreme Court to adopt a code of the ethics within 180 days. There is little hope the Koch brothers will allow Republicans to be party to legislation eliminating their substantial influence over at least two, and likely three, of the High Court’s conservative Justices.

As it stands now, the nine Supreme Court justices are so powerful that they are currently exempt from adhering to the code of conduct all other U.S. judges are required to follow; an ethics code to ensure there is a semblance of neutrality and transparency in the nation’s federal courts. It is a requirement that the American people support overwhelmingly, and if enacted may well lead the population to believe that the highest court in the land is not working solely for the rich and religious entities controlling the five conservatives on the Court.

In the latest polling from Gallup, the American people’s faith in the High Court as an independent, transparent, and fair entity is a despicable 30 percent; likely because of a recent rash of conservative rulings based on the demands of powerful special interest and religious groups. The solution is a simple fix requiring the Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from cases where they have a blatant, often monetary conflict of interest, and finally restrict them from engaging in political activities to raise money and awareness for conservative causes; specifically corporate and religious causes.

New legislation introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter is a reiteration of a 2012 bill that has an updated title, “the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2015.” The new legislation, if by a world-shaking miracle, was passed by the Koch Congress will be a huge step toward ensuring that conservative Justices start “ruling fairly and start conducting themselves in ways that uphold the impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.” Several rulings over the past five years by the conservative Court belie any belief that integrity and impartiality exists in at least three of the Court’s conservative puppets.

According to Senator Chris Murphy (D-CN) “there is absolutely no reason why Supreme Court Justices shouldn’t be subject to the same code of conduct as all other federal judges. The American people deserve to know that our highest court is held to the highest ethical standards, which is why we introduced the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2015.” All other Federal judges are held to high ethical standards due to requirements in “The Code of Conduct for United States Judges.” Supreme Court conservative Justices not only have no intent, much less obligation to adhere to the Code of Conduct, it is fairly well known that some of them refuse to even “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”

This is not the first, or even the second, time legislators have attempted to hold Supreme Court Justices to the same standards as every other federal judge. A similar bill was introduced in 1973, and again in 2013, and three years ago 212 legal scholars recognized the pressing need for an code of ethics and appealed to Chief Justice John Roberts in a letter “urging him to adopt a code of conduct for the Justices.” Roberts has also received a petition signed by 130,000 Americans (so far) begging him to adopt and enforce some kind of ethics code for the High Court; likely because the public knows that conservative Justices, particularly Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, are closely tied to, and committed to serve the Koch brothers, conservative belief tanks, evangelicals, and corporations.

Democratic legislators say, and rightly so, that Congress has the purview to create a Supreme Court Code of Conduct because it legally determines how many Justices sit on the Court as well as how much they are paid by the federal government, not the Koch brothers or conservative belief tanks. In a press release, the bill’s author, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) said  “The questionable activities of some of our Supreme Court justices have been well documented — participating in political functions, failing to report family income from political groups, and attending political fundraisers. It doesn’t make sense that members of the highest court in the land are the only federal judges exempt from the code of conduct.”

Slaughter was referring to Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas Koch-funded attendance at a highly-secret Koch brother strategy meeting and corporate fundraiser with Citizens United plaintiffs prior to hearing and ruling that corporations are exempt from campaign finance laws according to their 1st Amendment right of free speech. She also noted that Clarence Thomas deliberately concealed hundreds-of-thousands of dollars paid to his wife by the “anti-Obamacare” conservative Heritage  Foundation to lobby against the Affordable Care Act; even while the Supreme Court was taking up the Constitutionality of the healthcare insurance reform law. Last year, Justice Samuel Alito was the featured guest speaker at a $25,000-a-head political fundraiser for a conservative magazine group, American Spectator. There is no way of knowing whether or how much Alito earned as a featured speaker because there is no Supreme Court Code of Ethics. Regardless of whether he earned one penny, Alito like Scalia, did use his status and position as a Supreme Court Justice to raise money for conservatives.

It is an affront to Americans, and frankly the rule of law, that every judge in America is held to some kind of ethical standards except the nine Supreme Court Justices with the power to interpret the Constitutionality of any and every law in the nation. Over the past five years, particularly, the American people have suffered the consequences, including the selling of their democracy to the rich and powerful, of a High Court without a code of judicial conduct.

It is true there is no guarantee that a judicial “ethics or conduct code” will ensure transparency and neutrality, especially among the Koch conservatives on the Court. It may, however, serve as a reminder to Justices that they are not above following basic judicial ethics standards; something the Koch brothers will never allow “their” Republican Congress to enact or enforce. If, by some Earth-shaking miracle Congress did enact a Supreme Court Ethics Code, it is likely that the 5 conservatives on the High Court would rule it unconstitutional.

20 Replies to “Democrats Drill Republicans By Hitting Them In The Koch With Supreme Court Ethics Bill”

  1. Right now republicans are holding hearings on the SCOTUS and their, hold the laughter, judicial activism.
    Sen. Ted Cruz holds hearing on how to rein in SCOTUS ‘lawlessness’
    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/sen._ted_cruz_holds_hearing_on_how_to_rein_in_scotus_lawlessness

    You know when republicans hold hearing all types of crazy emerge but not one of them brought up ethics.

    I guess ethics to republicans is like the cross to vampires. Avoid at all cost

  2. Both SCOTUS and Congress need to be reigned in and be held accountable to do their job to serve We, the People, all Americans rather than just the super wealthy. Scalia and Thomas need to be removed from the bench. Their judicial activism is completely unacceptable. Alito needs to be sanctioned. The Koch Brothers need to be held accountable for the damage they have done, not only to the environment, but also to the political process. The world will be a better place when they depart this world.

  3. Seen Clarence & Scabia at the secret meeting in Palm Springs on national TV. What a joke. They knew from jump street that it was a conflicted situation when they attended. DOJ, what is your problem?

  4. The fact that the Supreme Court is not subject to any code of ethics is shameful enough. What is worse is that Roberts is ignoring the combined opinion/request of over 200 legal scholars, as well as thousands of ordinary Americans, indicating to me that he knows perfectly well that a few of his colleagues are behaving unethically and thus obviously have his seal of approval.
    Disgusting!

  5. If there was ever a no-brainer, this would be it. But then, we’re talking about people whose middle name is ‘corruption’.

  6. …I think the Rabid 4 have shown they dumped thier loyalty to the Constitution in favor of Teahadist Idiotology and allegiance to the Kochs…

  7. We need to refine the message that the Republican Roberts’ Court is the most corrupt Court in all of American history, and we need to say it over and over and over again.

  8. “Teahadist idiotology” is just a side-effect of the Roberts’ Court. The Corporatist-4 don’t care about the poor and working poor idiots in the Tea Party. That’s because their loyalty doesn’t lie with them. It lies with millionaires and billionaires in this country, and the corporations they sit at the helm of. Corporate rule is what those Corporatist-4 are after.

  9. Civil Service employees making $50K a year are subject to far more stringent ethical standards than SCOTUS. This bill’s passage and implementation are LONG overdue.

  10. The present congress must just love the present SCOTUS right now…even Cruz! They are all for the benefit of the 1%. I lost respect for the SCOTUS when they passed Citizens United. Well at least the conservatives on the panel.

  11. Yes Just imagine what will happen when they follow the rule of law and uphold the word of instead of replace it with from.Make a Constitutional ruling based of the Writings of the constitution and the arguments of the Constitutional Congress without adding adlibs from later dates. The Separation of Church and State isn’t in the Constitution. Lets open this can wide open Also imagine the outcome of whereby the courts are required to take the actual written meanings without interjecting anything into it. My my those Kotch brothers will be happy with that outcome.

  12. Actually i couldn’t agree with you on this or the last two big Decisions would have gone the other way. Had the SCOUS done their job in the first place Obama Care would have never made the second trip to SCOUS as a fine levied by IRS isn’t within the legal terms of the Constitution. Fines are levied by the Judicial branch and allow the citizen a right to redress their grievance. By changing a word it went from fine to a tax. The other thing would have been on the definition as of a word.

  13. No wonder Ted “The Sludge” is calling for ELECTING SCOTUS…then billionaires can purchase them right out in the open, although, actually, without revealing themselves…

  14. I think, if it wasn’t for SELMA and its people fighting for voters rights, and equalty, Thomas would be still sleeping under a bridge, he gives nothing back to those who fought for his right to be where he is today.Shame on you SCJ Thomas

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