As ThinkProgress previously reported, Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) circulated a letter calling upon the House Judiciary Committee’s leadership to hold a hearing his bill ending the Supreme Court’s immunity to key judicial ethics laws. Murphy’s bill is inspired by numerous recent ethics scandals involving the Court’s most conservative members:
There have been alarming reports of justices – most notably Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – attending political events and using their position to fundraise for organizations. These activities would be prohibited if the justices were required to abide by the Judicial Conference Code of Conduct, which currently applies to all other federal judges. [...]
Recent revelations about Justice Thomas accepting tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from individuals and organizations who often have an interest in matters before the courts calls into question the Court’s impartiality. Canon 4D of the Code of Conduct incorporates regulations providing that “[a] judicial officer or employee shall not accept a gift from anyone who is seeking official action from or doing business with the court.” Yet Justice Thomas received a gift valued at $15,000 from an organization that had a brief pending before his Court at the very moment they gave him the gift. Incidents such as these undermine the integrity of the entire judiciary, and they should not be allowed to continue.
Forty-three Members of Congress have now joined Murphy’s call to end the Supreme Court’s ethics immunity.