Chief Justice John Roberts reiterated the supreme court’s “status as an independent branch” while speaking about ethics.
He also said he was “considering” steps for justices to “adhere to the highest standards of conduct.”
The comments come after the ethics of the court were called into question by Congress.
Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday during a public address that the court doesn’t need other branches of government to patrol its ethics, but acknowledged that he was “committed” to making sure justices followed high standards of conduct.
Roberts, who spoke Tuesday night at the American Law Institute’s annual dinner, also said the court is “considering” ways for justices to “adhere to the highest standards of conduct” — but didn’t offer specifics on what changes might be in the works.
“I want to assure people that I am committed to making certain that we as a court adhere to the highest standards of conduct,” Roberts said. “We are continuing to look at things we can do to give practical effect to that commitment. And I am confident there are ways to do that that are consistent with our status as an independent branch of government under the Constitution’s separation of powers.”
The comments come after public confidence in the Supreme Court reached a historic low and after multiple reports called into question the ethics of the justices. Justice Clarence Thomas took lavish secret vacations on a private jet and superyacht paid for by GOP megadonor Harlan Crow for years without disclosing them. It was later revealed that Thomas sold his childhood home to Crow, again failing to disclose the sale.
Insider’s Mattathias Schwartz also reported that the Roberts wife made millions as a legal recruiter for law firms, according to a whistleblower who worked with her.
However, the court has refrained from publicly adopting a code of ethics, saying instead they would adhere to a general code of conduct in a letter to Congress, which has tried to reign in its power in recent months.
The letter, signed by all nine justices, raised concerns about “threats” to the safety of justices — a point repeated by Roberts during his Tuesday speech.
“Judges heckled and shouted down at law school. Protesters outside the homes of Justices to the extent that martial protection is needed 24/7,” Roberts said.
“The hardest decision I had to make was whether to erect fences and barricades around the Supreme Court,” he added, in reference to the barriers erected after a draft opinion on the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to the press.
Experts previously told Insider that recent controversies would lead to internal policing and behavioral changes within the Supreme Court.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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