JURIST has published a new commentary by William G. Ross, Cumberland School of Law's Albert P. Brewer professor of law and ethics, in which he addresses the question "Should the US Supreme Court Have an Ethics Code?".
He begins, "Recent concerns about leaks of US Supreme Court decisions and Justice Clarence Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself in a case that might involve connections to his wife, Virginia Thomas, have spurred calls for a code of ethics for US Supreme Court justices. Although the Judicial Conference of the United States promulgated a Code of Conduct for lower federal judges in 1973, Supreme Court justices have had to navigate ethical issues without a formal code. There are reports that the justices have considered adopting such a code. A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last year would require the Judicial Conference to adopt a code of conduct for the justices, while another House bill goes even further by having Congress impose such a code. The code presumably would resemble the Code of Conduct for lower federal judges, which admonishes justices to be fair, diligent, and impartial; to avoid extrajudicial activities inconsistent with the judicial office; to abstain from political activities."
Ross is a nationally recognized expert on the ethics of legal fees and judicial ethics, and has written extensively on legal ethics, American legal history and the federal judicial appointments process.