Legal expert reminds America: Supreme Court has no mandated ethics rules
John Roberts (pho by Andrew Harnik for AFP)

Questions about the Supreme Court have surfaced in the past year after it was discovered that Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni, helped lobby lawmakers for the overthrow of the 2020 election. Since then it has been one scandal after another.

In the spring of 2022, Justice Samuel Alito's justification for eliminating Roe v. Wade case was leaked to the press, prompting Republicans to demand an investigation into who leaked it. A new report from the New York Times has revealed that Alito might have a history of leaking information about the rulings to allies.

That report cited an anti-choice minister who indicated that Alito tipped his hat on the Dobbs ruling, something which the judge has denied. Clarence Thomas, on the other hand, has never denied the allegations of compromised ethics.

The report has led to questions about why Alito's name has twice been part of stories involving Supreme Court leaks, which MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace addressed on Monday.

Speaking to former federal prosecutor, now law professor, Joyce White Vance, Wallace asked what can be done to save the court.

Over the past several months, Chief Justice John Roberts and other justices have complained publicly about people not liking them or thinking that they're too political.

Vance explained that there are no real ethics mandates on Supreme Court Justices.

"By refusing to have an ethical code, a code that every other judge in the country lives with, the justices hold themselves out for the situation they find themselves in, where public respect has plummeted," she explained. "Here's the problem, there's not really a stick in that area because the Separation of Powers would make it very difficult for congress to come in and write an ethics code that they would force onto the court. Unless the justices themselves agree to adopt an ethics code, there's not anyone who can force them to do it. It's tough to believe the chief justice has not broached these conversations with his colleagues. It must be that there are one or more justices unwilling to adopt a code. It would be difficult for a court to have a divided vote here. you can imagine the rancor and how that would spill over and diminish public confidence."

She cited Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) who said that something must be done if Chief Justice Roberts won't handle the problems under his watch. Vance went on to reiterate what Whitehouse said about the legacy of corruption that Roberts is building if no action is taken.

"If you're a member of the Supreme Court —if you've risen to that high office, wouldn't you want the public to hold that court in high confidence?" Vance asked. "Wouldn't you want to have the public's confidence in your integrity?"

The Court has just a 28 percent approval rating, something Wallace said she's never seen a politician have, much less a non-political figure.

See the conversation below or at this link.

Supeme Court has no ethics