Supreme Court adopts code of conduct

The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it will adhere to a code of conduct for the first time in its history after a series of controversies called into question the ethics of the nation’s highest court.

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In a statement, the Supreme Court said the code was shared “to set out succinctly and gather in one place the ethics rules and principles that guide the conduct of the Members of the Court.”

Justices said the rules were not new but had not been formally gathered before. The lack of a formal document “led in recent years to misunderstanding that the Justices of this Court, unlike all jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by ethics rules,” according to the Supreme Court.

“To dispel this misunderstanding, we are issuing this Code, which largely represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct,” justices said in the statement.

The Supreme Court has faced mounting pressure to strengthen its ethics-related policies after reports surfaced about trips that wealthy conservative donors gave Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito years earlier, The Washington Post reported. Both men have said that they did not believe they had to disclose the travel under the rules in place at the time of the trips.

Justices have since expressed an openness to adopting a formal code of conduct, according to CNN.

The Supreme Court wasn’t bound by the rules that apply to the rest of the federal judiciary, Bloomberg News reported. Lower court judges have been subject to a code of conduct created by the Judicial Conference since 1973, the news site reported.

In 1991, the Supreme Court agreed to voluntarily follow some regulations set out by the conference, including rules requiring reports on gifts and financial disclosures, according to Bloomberg News.