Amy Coney Barrett voices support for court reform

 October 18, 2023

Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett signaled support for introducing a formal code of ethics for herself and her colleagues. 

The conservative justice told a crowd at University of Minnesota Law School that it would be a "good idea" for justices to adopt formal rules.

ACB supports ethics pledge

Democrats have sharply targeted the court's recent decisions, especially the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, to argue the court is illegitimate and on the wrong side of "democracy."

The left has pressed their case on "ethics" by targeting two conservatives in particular, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and their ties to conservative donors.

Conservatives have dismissed the "reform" campaign as a thinly veiled partisan coup.

The Supreme Court is the highest level of an independent branch of government; the justices serve during good behavior, and they have never been subjected to a formal code of conduct.

For Congress to place the court under such oversight would likely raise delicate questions about the separation of powers, but Democrats have barreled ahead, insisting reform is needed to rebuild "trust."


While gesturing at change, Barrett implied that any code of conduct would be merely formalize what the justices "are already doing" to avoid conflicts of interest.

She said there is already “unanimity among all nine justices that we should and do hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards possible.”

“I think it would be a good idea for us to do it, particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what it is that we’re doing — and in a clearer way than perhaps we have been able to do so far,” Barrett said.

“I will say this, there is no lack of consensus among the justices — there is unanimity among all nine justices — that we should and do hold ourselves to the highest standards, highest ethical standards possible.”

Reform on the way?

A group of protesters interrupted Barrett's talk, shouting, "Not the Court, not the State, People must decide their fate."

The court has generally resisted calls for change from outside, and the justices - despite their sharp differences in opinion - often defend one another from criticism.

But Barrett's comments are the latest signal that the court is responding to pressure for "reform" from the left.

Brett Kavanaugh last month gestured at "concrete steps" to rebuild "confidence" in the court.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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