Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Ethical Honor System; U.S. News & World Report, June 9, 2017

Joseph P. Williams, U.S. News & World Report; 

The Ethical Honor System

""If people assumed a duck hunting trip would be enough to swing [my] vote," Scalia wrote in a searing, 21-page memo, "the nation is in deeper trouble than I had imagined.''

Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor and longtime legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, concurs. In an essay shortly after Scalia's death, Toobin wrote that he was unperturbed by the ethical questions swirling around Scalia's final vacation, and believes the justices are doing fine by policing themselves.

"If a friend of Scalia wanted to host the Justice for a hunting trip, that also seems unproblematic to me," wrote Toobin. "Justices are allowed to have friends, and they're allowed to enjoy the hospitality of those friends."

[Rep. Louise] Slaughter, the New York congresswoman, strongly objects. 

In April, she introduced to the House – again – the Supreme Court Ethics Act, a bill designed to bring accountability to the high court. She's been pushing the issue since 2013, and the bill has repeatedly stalled, but Slaughter believes the matter is too important to drop.

While lower-court federal judges are bound by a strict ethics code, which requires more thorough reporting, "the Supreme Court is the only one that doesn't have any kind of code to go by," Slaughter said in the NBC interview. "We want the same code of ethics for the Supreme Court that we require for all federal judges. Just as simple as that.""

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