Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were slapped for their participation in conservative events and fundraising efforts, apparent violations of the Code of Conduct other judges operate under, the Democrats charged. “Justices either do not understand or have disregarded the Code’s boundaries,” said a letter to Roberts delivered by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.
Critics have been pushing the court to live by the Code of Conduct for years, but they’ve stepped up their attacks on Alito, Scalia and Thomas this year because of several cases, such as Obamacare, that the court plans to take up. Slaughter hinted that some of the court’s decisions will be tainted by the conservative activism of the trio of Republicans.
At a press conference a few yards from the steps of the Supreme Court, Slaughter said that Roberts’ pledge in a year-end report on the state of the federal judiciary to run an ethical court wasn’t good enough. “I urge Chief Justice Roberts to take the next step” and adopt the ethics rules covering lower courts.
District Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton suggested that by not adopting ethics rules, the court could suffer the same kind of poor public approval ratings of Congress. “The Supreme Court can ill afford to have any similar loss of approval,” she said. “This concerns the court itself and the confidence people have in it.”
The letter cited seven different events from 2009-2011 attended by Scalia, Thomas or Alito, including a retreat Thomas and Scalia appeared at organized by the Koch brothers, the conservative businessmen liberals regularly rail against.