Author Topic: Judicial Ethics and the Supreme Court  (Read 625 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Judicial Ethics and the Supreme Court
« on: January 06, 2012, 04:43:43 am »
NY TIMES:

January 5, 2012
Judicial Ethics and the Supreme Court
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. tried to address growing concerns about ethical behavior and conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court in his annual report on the federal judiciary. But he skirted the heart of the problem: the justices are the only American judges not bound by a code of ethics.

He dismissed criticism that justices are exempt from the Judicial Conference’s Code of Conduct, contending that they do “consult” the code, which “plays the same role” for the court as it does for other federal judges.

But he misstates the code’s authority. While a justice can ignore the code, all other judges must obey it. If the Supreme Court is serious about abiding by an ethics code, there are ways for it to do so without impinging on the court’s independence and its constitutional role.

Because of the court’s unique position, a justice’s decision to recuse cannot be appealed to any other court. But the court can certainly say which parts of the code should not apply to the justices and then adopt other suitable means of accountability.

For starters, the justices could follow a good example set by the chief justice’s usual ally, Justice Antonin Scalia. They should commit to explaining in written opinions any decisions they make to deny motions for their recusal, except on the most sensitive and confidential issues. They could also openly adopt the judicial conduct code as they work to adapt it.

Chief Justice Roberts’s report disclosed that in 1991 the justices passed “an internal resolution” on rules about financial disclosure and limits on gifts and outside income. The court could follow this precedent, but this time making public the language of the resolution and the names of the justices who support it, as in any opinion.

Until the court takes these steps, there will be continuing concerns about the justices’ impartiality. It is not enough for the justices to rely on their own “constant vigilance and good judgment,” as Chief Justice Roberts contends. It is disingenuous for him to claim that “no compilation of ethical rules can guarantee integrity” when no code currently applies to the court. Adopting a conduct code would clarify the rules that apply to the justices and greatly bolster public confidence in the court.



Offline Battle

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Re: Judicial Ethics and the Supreme Court
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2020, 06:42:19 pm »
Saturday, 14th March, Two Thousand and Twenty


The Chief Justice of the United States
One First Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20543
March 11, 2020





Dear Chief Justice Roberts:




I hereby resign my membership in the Supreme Court Bar.

This was not an easy decision.

I have been a member of the Supreme Court Bar since 1972, far longer than you have, and appeared before the Court, both in person and on briefs, on several occasions as Deputy and First Deputy Attorney General of Hawaii before being appointed as a Hawaii District Court judge in 1986.

I have a high regard for the work of the Federal Judiciary and taught the Federal Courts course at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law for a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.

This due regard spanned the tenures of Chief Justices Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist before your appointment and confirmation in 2005.


I have not always agreed with the Court’s decisions, but until recently I have generally seen them as products of mainstream legal reasoning, whether liberal or conservative.

The legal conservatism I have respected– that of, for example, Justice Lewis Powell, Alexander Bickel or Paul Bator– at a minimum enshrined the idea of stare decisis and eschewed the idea of radical change in legal doctrine for political ends.


I can no longer say that with any confidence.

You are doing far more — and far worse – than “calling balls and strikes.”


You are allowing the Court to become an “errand boy” for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.

The Court, under your leadership and with your votes, has wantonly flouted established precedent.

Your “conservative” majority has cynically undermined basic freedoms by hypocritically weaponizing others.

The ideas of free speech and religious liberty have been transmogrified to allow officially sanctioned bigotry and discrimination, as well as to elevate the grossest forms of political bribery beyond the ability of the federal government or states to rationally regulate it.


More than a score of decisions during your tenure have overturned established precedents—some more than forty years old– and you voted with the majority in most.

There is nothing “conservative” about this trend.

This is radical “legal activism” at its worst.

Without trying to write a law review article, I believe that the Court majority, under your leadership, has become little more than a result-oriented extension of the right wing of the Republican Party, as vetted by the Federalist Society.


Yes, politics has always been a factor in the Court’s history, but not to today’s extent.

Even routine rules of statutory construction get subverted or ignored to achieve transparently political goals.

The rationales of “textualism” and “originalism” are mere fig leaves masking right wing political goals; sheer casuistry.


Your public pronouncements suggest that you seem concerned about the legitimacy of the Court in today’s polarized environment.

We all should be.


Yet your actions, despite a few bromides about objectivity, say otherwise.

It is clear to me that your Court is willfully hurtling back to the cruel days of Lochner and even Plessy.


The only constitutional freedoms ultimately recognized may soon be limited to those useful to wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males— and the corporations they control.

This is wrong.

Period.

This is not America.

I predict that your legacy will ultimately be as diminished as that of Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who presided over both Plessy and Lochner.


It still could become that of his revered fellow Justice John Harlan the elder, an honest conservative, but I doubt that it will.

Feel free to prove me wrong.


The Supreme Court of the United States is respected when it wields authority and not mere power.

As has often been said, you are infallible because you are final, but not the other way around.

I no longer have respect for you or your majority, and I have little hope for change.

I can’t vote you out of office because you have life tenure, but I can withdraw whatever insignificant support my Bar membership might seem to provide.


Please remove my name from the rolls.

With deepest regret,



James Dannenberg

















Would You Like To Know More?
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/03/judge-james-dannenberg-supreme-court-bar-roberts-letter.html