Summary: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a statement laying out a code of conduct for its nine justices in response to political pressure and public criticism over undisclosed gifts and ethical conflicts of interest. Comments below from Duke Law professor Veronica Root Martinez are available for use in your coverage.
“The Supreme Court’s ethics code is good news on many levels. There are, however, some remaining concerns,” says Veronica Root Martinez, a professor of law at Duke University School of Law.
“First, it lacks an enforcement mechanism to ensure the justices’ compliance with the code. It is common for self-regulatory systems – and that is what this is – to include measures about enforcement. The justices know that, and they should consider how to fully self-regulate so the public, and the justices, are clear on the consequences for failing to comply with the code.”
“Second, the code adopts a lower standard of conduct by using the word ‘should’ instead of ‘shall,’ which is what you typically see in these sorts of interventions. That means that even if there was an enforcement mechanism, there isn’t as much room to levy a sanction, because the justices ‘should’ do the listed concern instead of being required to do it.”
“The adoption of this ethics code by the court is an excellent first step, but more work is needed.”
Veronica Root Martinez is a professor of law at Duke University School of Law. She is an expert in the fields of professional and organizational ethics and one of the nation’s foremost experts on corporate misconduct and compliance.
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