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...the Supreme Court is not bound by the code...
Back in February, The Blaze reported on liberal attacks being waged against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The left, predominately upset over Thomas' relationship with conservative donors and with his wife's involvement in political causes, has been railing against his alleged ethics violations for months now.
In March, more Thomas drama unfolded, as Democrats accused him of perjury for allegedly admitting failure to disclose his wife's "non-investment income." At the same time, others were contending that Thomas had repaid a favor to the conservative Citizens United group for assisting him in getting confirmed (they produced an ad campaign for him in 1991). Critics claim that retribution came in the form of a 2010 ruling in their favor at the conclusion of the highly-publicized Citizens United v. FEC case.
Rep. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.) has introduced legislation that would subject Supreme Court justices to the same ethical rules that govern lower court judges while establishing additional rules to make the recusal process more transparent.
ThinkProgress seems to applaud Murphy's efforts to strip Supreme Court justices of immunity from ethical codes that are currently enacted for other federal judges. Murphy's main goal? To find out if Thomas' alleged offenses collectively indicate that he should no longer serve on the high court.
The L.A. Times further explains the judicial code:
The Code of Conduct for United States Judges was established by the U.S. Judicial Conference and covers all federal lower court judges. Among other things, the code says that "a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities." Supreme Court justices insist that they too are guided by the code, but when it comes to ensuring public confidence, voluntary compliance is no substitute for mandatory adherence.
While it is certainly important that Americans hold all government officials -- including justices -- accountable, The New York Times makes this important pronouncement when it comes to the code of conduct:
Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said they adhere to it. Legal ethicists differed on whether Justice Thomas’s dealings with Mr. Crow [a conservative donor] pose a problem under the code.
With disagreement clouding the discussion, there's no telling when or where this scenario will end. Murphy, for one, is continuing to push for more judicial accountability. In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, he said:
I think our problem is we don’t know the full extent of Justice Thomas’ connections to [leading GOP donor] Harlan Crow, or, frankly, to a further network of right-wing funders. What he’s done is incredibly serious.
I think, at the very least, his actions should disqualify him from sitting on any cases in which Crow-affiliated organizations are parties to or have attempted to influence [the Court]. But this is starting to rise to the level where there should start to be some real investigations as to whether Clarence Thomas can continue to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.
Watch these comments below:
And in a separate clip (below) Murphy targets congressional ethics (though he seems to gloss over issues related to pork barrel spending, which congressional members surely benefit from) and the disparity between standards that members of Congress and justices are held to. Then, he delves into the GOP's "deafening silence" on the Thomas matter:
You can read ThinkProgress' long list of reasons why they "doubt Thomas" and his place on the High Court here.
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