U.S. Supreme Court Announces a Code of Conduct for Itself - State and Federal Communications

November 13, 2023  •  

U.S. Supreme Court Announces a Code of Conduct for Itself

United States Supreme Court Building

On November 13, the United States Supreme Court issued its first Code of Conduct to regulate its own ethical behavior.

In a statement from the Court, it said, “The absence of a Code . . . has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the Justices of this Court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules. To dispel this misunderstanding, we are issuing this Code, which largely represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct.”

The code is broken into five canons of behavior and includes commentary of the canons.

The canons address upholding the integrity and independence of the judiciary; avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities; performing the duties of office fairly, impartially, and diligently; engaging in extrajudicial activities that are consistent with the obligations of the judicial office; and refraining from political activity.

The code is substantially derived from the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges but adapted for the Court.

To assist the Justices in complying with these Canons, the Chief Justice has directed Court officers to undertake an examination of best practices of other federal and state courts.

The Office of Legal Counsel plans on providing annual training to the Justices, staff, and Court personnel regarding recurring ethics and financial disclosure issues.

In addition to the Code of Conduct, Justices are directed to comply with various federal laws and rules, including the current Judicial Conference Regulations on gifts; foreign gifts and decorations; outside earned income, honoraria, and employment; and financial disclosure.

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