The Supreme Court has taken a lot of heat lately for its lack of an ethics pledge and the questionable ethical actions of some of its justices.
Until recently, much of the criticism has been levied on conservative justices on the bench.
This week, though, that all changed thanks to an investigative report published by The Associated Press on Tuesday. That report brings into focus some of the questionable actions by the high court’s liberal justices.
The AP report outlined how various schools tried to court donors to attend events that featured liberal Supreme Court justices. These events then enabled discussions to take place between elected officials and the justices, and also gave the justices luxurious trips to places such as Europe and Hawaii – all in exchange for doing some very slight “teaching.”
While the AP report said that visits like this were taken by multiple justices – both conservative and liberal – the heaviest accusations were levied against liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The report said that some of her staff members urged colleges to buy the justice’s books when she went on one of these trips to the schools.
The AP report published an email that was sent from one of Sotomayor’s aides in August of 2019 regarding a trip the justice was about to take to Portland, Oregon, for a book talk. The email read:
“250 books is definitely not enough. Families purchase multiples and people will be upset if they are unable to get in line because the book required is sold out.”
Supreme Court justices have long taken on speaking engagements for colleges and universities. Recently, though, the travels the justices have taken are facing increased scrutiny, because stories have emerged about how wealthy activists have done their best to buy inside access to the high court’s dealings.
While new reports about the behaviors of Supreme Court justices are being published somewhat regularly now, Democrats in the Senate are trying to force an ethics bill to apply to the high court.
This effort really started when ProPublica published a story about undisclosed trips that conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas accepted from major donors to the GOP as well as other Republican-leaning billionaires.
The GOP has responded to the Democrats’ push for an ethics bill by saying it’s just a liberal attempt to tear down the majority conservatives have built on the high court.
But, some people are saying that what the actions of all the justices are showing is that this is really not a partisan issue. For instance, Gabe Roth, who serves as the executive director of the non-partisan watchdog group called Fix the Court, said recently:
“This is a global problem across the ideological spectrum, and to me, there’s obvious solutions. But, it keeps the conversation going. The ethics issue is not Clarence Thomas flew on a private plane and vacationed in a yacht. The ethics problems at the Supreme Court are clearly much greater than those events with that one justice.”