Why the U.S. Supreme Court Doesn’t See Its Own Corruption

What they’ve done over the past 25 years to change the game

Joel Ombry

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The U.S. Supreme Court, courtesy of Kjetil Ree via commons.wikimedia.org, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0

The U.S. Supreme Court has been under increasing public criticism for several months. Much of it was sparked by a series of articles from Pro Publica and other journalists detailing the justices receiving millions in lavish gifts — vehicles, homes, vacations, private jet flights, etc. — from wealthy conservative “friends” and donors. Public confidence in the Court is at its lowest point in decades.

In response, the Court recently published a code of conduct. This was a first in its 234-year history. While it deserves credit for responding to public pressure to explain seemingly corrupt behavior, the code itself was underwhelming. There is no enforcement mechanism for violations, and little in it is new. It basically codifies what the Court has asserted in the past as its ethics practices. Practices that justices violated multiple times in the past two decades without consequence.

So, all that’s really changed is that the Court is no longer violating an oral code of conduct, it’s violating a written one. That doesn’t feel like much progress to me.

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Joel Ombry

Trying to figure it out by writing it down. Interested in politics, health and fitness, writing and personal development.