- Polling Issues
Judicial ethics

Although most of our judges are beyond reproach, there still remain cases of judicial misconduct. Judicial misconduct occurs when a judge acts in a way that is unethical or violates the judge's obligations of impartiality. From 2008 to 2019, there were more than 5,000 cases in which judges resigned, retired or were publicly disciplined following accusations of misconduct. However, unlike all other federal judges, Supreme Court Justices are not bound by a code of ethics. Most believe transparency and ethics are vital to the integrity of the judiciary and keeping the public’s trust in our courts – particularly as attacks on judicial independence and the rule of law have become more common.

Advocates claim that, for decades, it has been apparent the federal judiciary operates with too much secrecy and too little transparency, endangering the public’s confidence in the impartiality of judges and justices. Recent examples include a former colleague of U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts' wife, Jane, filing a complaint with Congress and the Justice Department alleging her work as a legal recruiter poses a conflict of interest at the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas has faced calls to recuse himself on a number of issues and cases over the conservative political activism of his wife, Ginni. And Justice Samuel Alito was recently accused by a former anti-abortion activist of leaking the outcome of a major case at a dinner with his wife. Critics say that, given the historic misdeeds of our judicial system, we can only restore faith in our highest court by requiring Supreme Court justices to adhere to the same standard of ethics as other federally appointed judges.

Pending Legislation: S.325 - Supreme Court Ethics Act
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (CT)
Status: Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Chair: Sen. Dick Durbin (IL)

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Poll Opening Date
March 13, 2023
Poll Closing Date
March 19, 2023

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