Justice Amy Coney Barrett Says Supreme Court Ethics Code Is A ‘Good Idea’

"There is no lack of consensus among the justices."
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court meets with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) (not seen) at the U.S. Capitol on October 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barrett is meeting with senators ahead of her confirmation hearing which is scheduled to begin on October 12, less than a month before Election Day. (Photo by Caroline Brehman- Pool/Getty Images)
Caroline Brehman- Pool/Getty Images

Justice Amy Coney Barrett this week called for the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code, calling it a “good idea.”

Barrett made the remark during a University of Minnesota Law School event on Monday.

“It would be a good idea for us to do it,” Barrett said during a discussion at the event with Robert Stein, a longtime law professor and the American Bar Association’s former chief operating officer.

“Particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what it is that we are doing in a clearer way,” Barrett added.

Barrett noted that her fellow justices broadly support the idea of an ethics code such as the ones lower court judges follow.

“There is no lack of consensus among the justices,” she said. “There’s unanimity among all nine justices that we should and do hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards possible.”

The Supreme Court is currently the only court in the federal judiciary that does not require its nine justices to adhere to a formal code of ethics. Although they do not have a formal ethics code, justices do follow other rules such as filing financial disclosure reports every year.

In April, Justice Clarence Thomas defended traveling with his close friend Harlan Crow, a real estate magnate and billionaire Republican donor, after allegations that he failed to report the trips.


“As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them,” Thomas said. “Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has attracted ethics concerns around her literary career. Sotomayor’s taxpayer-funded court staff have been repeatedly involved in setting up speaking events to promote her memoir and children’s books, which have earned the justice at least $3.7 million.

Justice Samuel Alito was also accused of not properly reporting a luxury fishing trip he took to Alaska in 2008, during which he reportedly traveled on a private jet with hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. Alito was also accused of failing to recuse himself from cases involving Singer.

Alito responded to the criticism in June, saying that he had no obligation to recuse himself from any of the cases in question because he was unaware of Singer’s connection to any of them. He added that he had only met Singer on a “handful of occasions,” and the two only ever engaged in small talk.

At least two other justices have indicated they support implementing an official ethics code as well, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“I’m hopeful that there will be some concrete steps taken soon on that,” Kavanaugh said last month.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Justice Amy Coney Barrett Says Supreme Court Ethics Code Is A ‘Good Idea’