Murkowski, King Want Court to Follow a Code of Conduct

Republican, Independent introduce bill, citing falling public confidence in justices
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 7:20 PM CDT
2 Senators Want to Force High Court to Add Conduct Code
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks during a hearing last month.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

Despite revelations about Supreme Court justices' failure to be forthcoming on financial transactions that could pose conflicts of interest, Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues have shown little interest in addressing the issue. One Republican and one Independent senator have moved to increase the pressure on them by introducing a bill that would make the court institute a new code of conduct, the Hill reports. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that voters' faith in the court's integrity is at a low point and that "any cracks in the public's confidence will have damaging repercussions for the state of our democracy."

Her co-sponsor, Independent Sen. Angus King, pointed out that the other two branches of government have such codes, as do all federal judges below the Supreme Court. It's common sense that the entire Judiciary has to follow "consistent, transparent rules," he said. King, who caucuses with Democrats, quoted Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, when he said "the Judiciary can only be successful if it has 'the esteem and applause of all the virtuous and disinterested.'" At the moment, King said Wednesday, mentioning opinion polls, "I worry we're getting dangerously far from this fundamental vision."

Neither senator is on the Judiciary Committee. A Democrat who is, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, said the bill is a reflection of the need. When bipartisan sponsors "understand the situation at the court is so bad that they need to involve themselves, it's a very strong signal to the court that it needs to clean up its act." King said he had not yet lobbied other Republicans for their support but would. A Gallup Poll released last fall showed public approval of the Supreme Court at historic lows. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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