WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned a panel of legal experts about the need for a strong Supreme Court code of ethics during a full committee hearing. The hearing follows recent bombshell reporting on unethical behavior by Supreme Court justices. During her question line, Senator Hirono highlighted the absurdity of the Supreme Court’s lack of a code of ethics, pointing out that nearly all other federal officials and employees, as well as employees of private sector companies, are subject to clear codes of conduct.
“We have heard that every other federal judge, members of Congress, and legislative and executive branch employees are all bound by strict ethical rules,” said Senator Hirono during the hearing. “But this extends beyond government into the private sector, where employees from the CEO to the sales floor are subject to strict codes of conduct.”
Senator Hirono goes over codes of conduct implemented by American companies during Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Specifically, Senator Hirono highlighted three private sector codes of conduct that all require employees to adhere to clear ethical standards.
“As we’ve seen today, the Supreme Court’s ethics rules fall far short of the clear, binding rules of the Executive and Legislative branches, and those of the private sector,” said Senator Hirono.
Senator Hirono also reiterated the importance of having a publicly accessible set of explicit, binding ethical rules in order to hold Supreme Court judges, a group of individuals with immense power, accountable.
“The Supreme Court has a huge impact on the daily lives of every single American,” continued Senator Hirono. “The highest court in our land should hold itself to the highest ethical standards and it is so clear that that is not what is happening today.”
At the end of her question line, Senator Hirono emphasized how the lack of a strong, enforceable code of ethics for Supreme Court justices undermines Americans’ faith in the Court.
“Frankly, I can see why the public has severe questions about the confidence that they have in our Supreme Court, which seems to hold itself above any other court and any of the rest of us, in terms of their ethical behavior,” concluded Senator Hirono.
A link to download video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Hirono has consistently championed more robust ethics and accountability for the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Last week, she introduced the Stop Judge Shopping Act, legislation to combat “judge shopping” in federal courts by giving the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) exclusive jurisdiction over cases that would have national implications. Senator Hirono is also an original cosponsor of both the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023 and the Supreme Court Ethics Act, legislation that would, among other things, require a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices. Last May, she also introduced a new version of the Twenty-First Century Court Act to promote accountability and increase transparency in federal courts. She also introduced the Judiciary Accountability Act of 2021, legislation to protect employees of the Federal judiciary from discrimination and harassment.