Strengthening Checks and Balances

Restoring the Public’s Faith in the Supreme Court

The Problem

The Problem

The Supreme Court should operate according to the highest ethical standards. As the most powerful court in the country, the Supreme Court makes long-lasting, consequential decisions that impact every one of us. The public deserves to know the nine justices are making these decisions free from conflicts of interest and partisan pressures. As it stands now, the Supreme Court has no code of ethics to ensure that the justices are consistently acting without bias. We’ve seen justices fail to recuse themselves from cases when they have potential conflicts of interest, appear at functions sponsored by partisan groups, and make statements that leave the public questioning their impartiality. We’re pushing for the Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics, an important first step in restoring the public’s faith in our nation’s highest court.

Collage of a crowd of protestors in front of the Supreme Court
Quick Facts

Did you know?

The highest court in the land holds itself to the lowest ethical standards, leading to several instances in which justices have made ethical lapses.

The justices have overseen cases in which they have apparent conficts of interest, made public comments that left the public questioning their impartiality, and spoken at events held by partisan organizations.

What’s at Stake

What’s at Stake

The Supreme Court Found a Way to Avoid Explaining its Decisions

The Supreme Court increasingly uses emergency decisions to weigh in on cases. When it does, the court does not provide its reasoning. The justices should limit their use of these emergency orders and explain their decisions when they do.

Justices Can Rule on Cases, Even with Conflicts of Interest

While Supreme Court justices are technically required to recuse from a case when they have a conflict of interest, it’s up to each justice to decide when and whether to bow out. We’re pushing for more rules around conflicts of interest.

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Public Trust in the Court Has Plummeted in Recent Years

Polls have shown the public’s faith in the Supreme Court is declining, and a majority of Americans now believe the court is no longer nonpartisan. Stronger ethics guidelines would go a long way in restoring the public’s confidence in the court.

Check out our model code of conduct

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