In a new interview, Professor Jason Mazzone spoke with the Illinois News Bureau about restoring public trust in the U.S. Supreme Court. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Why are U.S. Supreme Court ethics rules seemingly so toothless? What is the point of having strict disclosure rules and ethical standards if justices can ignore them?
The U.S. Supreme Court does not have a formal set of ethical rules. The Code of Conduct for United States Judges – the ethical canons designed to promote the integrity and independence of the federal judiciary – does not apply to Supreme Court justices. That’s because the body that created the Code of Conduct, the Judicial Conference of the United States, lacks power to regulate the Supreme Court.
When faced with ethical questions, the justices do consult the code along with other sources for guidance, but they have never adopted their own formal code of conduct.
Separately, federal statutes impose certain ethical requirements on all federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. For example, the Ethics in Government Act requires the justices to comply with financial disclosure rules that apply to other high-level federal officials and employees.
The Judicial Conference is responsible for administering these rules with respect to judges and ensuring their compliance. In March, the relevant committee of the Judicial Conference issued new regulations on reporting personal hospitality. But that brings us back to the question of whether the Judicial Conference can regulate the Supreme Court. In the past, the court has taken the position that its compliance is voluntary.
Read the full article at news.illinois.edu.
Hear more from Mazzone on this topic at wgnradio.com.