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Under ethics pressure, Supreme Court announces it’s adopting code of conduct

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(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday released a formal “Code of Conduct” for the justices, responding to years of criticism that the nation’s highest court does not have transparent or enforceable ethics guidelines.

The 8-page code, which significantly mirrors a code of conduct for lower federal court judges, details the expectations that justices should “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety” in their actions on and off the bench.

All nine current justices signed the code.

In a statement accompanying the code, the court said it was aimed at dispelling a “misunderstanding” that the justices have long been operating “unrestricted” by any rules.

Chief Justice John Roberts has asked court officials to review internal oversight mechanisms that ensure compliance with the code and determine whether additional steps need to be taken.

“For example, some district courts and courts of appeals have deployed software to run automated recusal checks on newcase filings,” a commentary attached to the code explained. “The Court will assess whether it needs additional resources in its Clerk’s Office or Office of Legal Counsel to perform initial and ongoing review of recusal and other ethics issues.”

Financial disclosure compliance by the justices will continue to be overseen by the Court’s Office of Legal Counsel and the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts’ Financial Disclosure Committee.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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