Senator Warren, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Ethics

Senator Elizabeth Warren is worried about conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court. Unlike all other federal courts, the Supreme Court has no formal code of conduct. Supreme Court justices are largely on their own when it comes to off-the-court activities and deciding when to recuse because of a conflict of interest.

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In a Politico article  titled “The Supreme Court Has An Ethics Problem,” Senator Warren crticizes Justice Neil Gorsuch’s recent keynote speech at a luncheon that the Fund for American Studies hosted at Trump International Hotel. The Fund for American Studies is subsidized by the Bradley Foundation, which, Senator Warren explains, is also funding a constitutional challenge to public sector unions that the Court will be hearing this term in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Since the Court split 4-4 when faced with this very same issue last term, it is highly likely that Justice Gorsuch will cast the deciding vote in this case.

Senator Warren concludes her article by announcing that she is co-sponsoring the “Supreme Court Ethics Act,” which would require the Court to adopt a formal code of conduct that would be aimed toward “eliminating ethical questions and conflicts of interests.”


This post was drafted by ISCOTUS Fellow Zoe Arthurson-McColl, Chicago-Kent Class of 2020, edited by ISCOTUS Fellow Bridget Flynn,  Chicago-Kent Class of 2019, and overseen by ISCOTUS Co-Director Professor Christopher Schmidt.

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