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Slotkin cosponsoring legislation to institute SCOTUS ethics reforms

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) announced on Wednesday that she has cosponsored legislation to institute ethics reforms for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act would require the Court to adopt an ethics code that would: institute transparency standards on gifts and travel, codify recusal standards, and require disclosure of lobbying and dark money interests that come before the court. The new code of ethics would hold the nine Justices accountable for any violations of these guardrails.

The bill is led by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). Its Senate companion is led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Slotkin’s announcement comes after media reports of undisclosed gifts and travel received by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In response to these revelations, the Senate Judiciary has opened an oversight investigation.

“No one is above the law – including Members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices. As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court must maintain the highest levels of transparency and public trust, and it’s clear they’ve fallen short,” said Slotkin. “At a time when many Americans have lost faith in our country’s most important institutions, it’s essential for us to show that our government is working for ordinary Americans and not special interests. This legislation is a step towards ensuring transparency and accountability. The Legislative and Executive branches are required to abide by serious ethics and disclosure requirements, and as a coequal branch of government and one of our most important institutions, the Supreme Court should do the same. It’s vital for American democracy that the Court upholds full confidence in its integrity and impartiality.”

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act would:

Require the court to:

• Adopt a code of conduct for itself and publish it, along with all other ethics rules and procedures, on its website

• Adhere – at a minimum – to the same gift, travel, and income disclosure rules as Members of Congress

• Create an investigative board composed of the chief justices of each federal circuit to investigate complaints against justices

Require justices recuse themselves from cases involving individuals who: 

• Lobbied or spent substantial funds to get that justice or judge confirmed

• Gave the justice, their family, or an entity under their control, income, gifts, or reimbursements within six years of the justice being assigned to the case

Impose disclosure requirements for:

• Lobbying, gifts, and payments received by justices

• Funding sources for parties filing amicus briefs

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