Should Congress Create More Supreme Court Ethics Laws?
In the past year, multiple news stories have emerged around the Supreme Court and questions over what laws should exist to enforce ethics amongst Justices on the bench. The recent stories revolve around some members of the Court, including the undisclosed acceptance of vacations, flights, sports tickets, and other gifts from individuals active in donating to political campaigns and others with ties to cases the Court has heard. Questions around Supreme Court ethics have been raised throughout history, but Congress has generally been wary to closely regulate the judicial branch on the issue for a variety of reasons. Will this year’s events change that?
Those who argue that Congress should create more Supreme Court ethics laws contend that Congress passing such laws will help strengthen checks and balances between the two branches of government and help prevent corruption. They argue that the legislature has an obligation to increase regulations to ensure that Justices are impartial in the cases that they hear. They also say that the Supreme Court must be held to the highest standards—through laws if necessary—to keep public trust in the institution.
Those who argue that Congress should not create more Supreme Court laws contend that allowing Congress to more closely regulate Supreme Court ethics poses a risk to checks and balances as it would open the opportunity for partisan lawmakers to unfairly censure Justices whose decisions or publicly expressed viewpoints they disagree with. They argue that the current laws are sufficient, and that Justices take multiple steps to ensure transparency in their conduct. They may argue that times when Justices accept large gifts without announcing the gift publicly does not equate to corruption, as the relevant rules are very specific and not applicable to every situation.
So, what do you think? Should Congress Create More Supreme Court Ethics Laws? Students can answer Yes, it should; No, it should not; or a nuanced answer in-between! Be sure to submit your answers by September 7 to be considered for this week’s Think the Vote contest.