Reps. Raskin, Stansbury, and Omar Push for Supreme Court Accountability with New Legislation

Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act ensures Inspector General for SCOTUS

April 18, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01),  Ilhan Omar (MN-05), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) today introduced the Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act of 2024 creating an Office of the Inspector General within the judicial branch and empowering the inspector general to conduct investigations of alleged violations of the Code of Conduct for Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Our people are in uproar over the money that billionaires and big corporations are spending to influence justices on the Supreme Court, said Rep. Raskin. Well-funded right-wing networks have poured money into reshaping the Court in their image and for their own purposes. Despite this flagrantly elitist and antidemocratic campaign, the highest court in the land continues to have the lowest ethical standards. This legislation takes a crucial step towards rebuilding the Supreme Court’s tarnished reputation and restoring its lost credibility with the American people. I'm grateful to my colleagues Representatives Stansbury and Omar for working with me to forward this critical effort to establish an Office of the Inspector General within the judicial branch. Thank you to Senator Blumenthal for leading the introduction of companion legislation in the Senate.

“Like every other federal entity, the Judiciary needs an Inspector General to deter and investigate internal wrongdoing — and restore public trust. After years of plummeting public confidence, the Courts need a watchdog to do prompt, impartial investigations of alleged conflicts of interest, improper benefits or other potential wrongdoing. Any ethics rules or code of conduct requires public accountability — otherwise it’s dead letter — as the Inspector General would provide,” said Sen. Blumenthal. 

“Americans have lost trust in the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Stansbury. “Strong judicial ethics are critical to a free and democratic society. Safeguarding these fundamentals is necessary to ensuring we restore faith in our democracy and our institutions, and an Inspector General will hold the Justices internally accountable to the highest ethical standards to protect the Court from special interest groups looking to strip Americans of their rights to protect their personal agendas.”

“For far too long, the highest court in our land has operated without true oversight," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "The American people deserve to have faith that the decisions being made by our judicial system are guided by the principles of fairness and the rule of law – not partisan politics or personal conflicts of interest. Our democracy depends on the integrity and impartiality of our judicial system. But in recent years, we've seen growing public mistrust as the Court has become increasingly ideological. This bill sends a clear message that the American people deserve transparency, accountability, and a Supreme Court that upholds the highest standards of ethical conduct.” 

Specifically, the Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act of 2024 would:

  • Create an Office of the Inspector General within the Judicial branch.

  • Authorize the Inspector General to conduct investigations of alleged violations of the Code of Conduct for Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • Authorize the powers and limitations of the Office of the Inspector General when investigating the Court.

  • Structure the duties of the Inspector General which would include conducting and supervising audits and investigations, preventing and detecting waste, fraud, and abuse; and recommending changes in laws or regulations relating to the code of conduct adopted by the Supreme Court.

  • Require the Inspector General to make prompt reports to the Chief Justice and to Congress on matters that may require action by the Chief Justice or Congress.

  • Require the Inspector General to report expeditiously to the Attorney General whenever the Inspector General has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of Federal criminal law. 

  • Require the Inspector General to provide an annual report to both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the results of their investigations.

  • Set appointments, term limits and removals of the inspector general.

  • Provide protection for whistleblowers.

Statements of support from organizations endorsing the legislation are below:  

“The Supreme Court’s ongoing corruption crisis has undermined its credibility and caused public trust to plummet to record lows. Since the conflicted justices refuse to cut off their cozy relationships with their billionaire buddies, the crisis requires an urgent solution. The Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act is just that,” said Accountable.US President Caroline Ciccone. “Thanks to the strong leadership of Representatives Stansbury, Raskin, Omar, Hank Johnson, and several other original cosponsors, we’re one step closer to ensuring our high court serves everyday Americans — not justices’ wealthy pals and special interests.” 

“CPD is proud to endorse the Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act and fight for the checks and balances this nation was founded upon,” said CPD Co-Executive Directors, Analilia Mejia and DaMareo Cooper. “Today’s Supreme Court is controlled by ultraconservative justices buried deep in the pockets of special interest groups committed to stripping our freedoms. It’s high time we held the Court to an ethics code that forces them to act with the fairness their job demands.”

“The Supreme Court is in a state of crisis—between the corruption permeating its halls and the attacks on our fundamental freedoms, Americans have lost faith in our highest court,” said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund. “The Judicial Ethics Enforcement Act of 2024 is a necessary step in holding the court accountable and restoring Americans’ confidence in the institution. We thank Congresswoman Stansbury and Senator Blumenthal for their ongoing leadership in the fight to reform the Supreme Court.”