On Thursday, April 18, 2024, government watchdog Accountable.US endorsed new bipartisan legislation aimed at increasing transparency and accountability at the highest level of the judicial branch.

Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone voiced their support for the Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act, introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury and in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal. If passed, the bill would establish an independent Office of the Inspector General within the judicial branch to investigate serious ethics violations committed by Supreme Court justices.

This endorsement comes amid growing concerns about conflicts of interest and lack of oversight for the highest court in the country. In recent years, reports detailed occasions where justices failed to properly disclose travel and gifts from wealthy donors with cases before the court. Figures like Harlan Crow and billionaire ‘matchmaker’ Leonard Leo were said to facilitate lavish benefits for certain justices, calling into question perceptions of fairness and impartiality.

With no current authority to properly vet such issues, the new legislation aims to bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the Supreme Court. The Inspector General would be granted investigatory powers to look into potential violations and address them if found to have merit.

Alongside endorsing the Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act, Accountable.US also backed companion legislation introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative Hank Johnson. Known as the Supreme Court Ethics Recusal and Transparency Act, it proposes establishing a code of conduct, clearer recusal guidelines, and increasing openness around potential conflicts of interest at the high court.

With government watchdogs like Accountable.US putting political pressure on lawmakers, there appears to be bipartisan momentum in Congress to address the judiciary’s glaring lack of ethical standards. Nevertheless, given entrenched partisan divides, it remains to be seen if a moderate compromise can be found to pass substantive reforms through both chambers. If approved, the new rules would represent a landmark step towards accountability and restoring faith in the integrity of the Supreme Court.



Source: Accountable.US