Clarence Thomas’ wife sparks effort to impose tougher Supreme Court ethics
Democrats in the House and Senate plan to re-introduce legislation that would hold Supreme Court justices to the same judicial standards as federal judges.
Mother Jones reported that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will introduce the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2012 on Thursday. Similar legislation was proposed by Murphy in 2011.
The Democrats plan to introduce the bill in response to the alleged conflict of interest involving Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Last week it was revealed that Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, was part of a secret group that hoped to advance the conservative agenda. She had previously founded Liberty Central, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group that opposed the Affordable Care Act.
Scalia and Thomas have also participated in secretive political strategy sessions hosted by Koch Industries.
The justices’ political affiliations raised questions about whether they should be disqualified from ruling on cases that could aid their political allies. The group Common Cause, for instance, said in 2011 that the Citizens United ruling directly benefited Koch Industries.
The Judicial Conference Code of Conduct requires federal judges to recuse themselves in cases where there may be a potential or perceived conflict of interest. Supreme Court justices, however, are not required to follow the code.
[Image via Flickr user DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons licensed]