BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Congressmembers Dan Goldman and Jerrold Nadler on Tuesday joined 32 other representatives in demanding immediate hearings and a floor vote on H.R. 926, the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency (SCERT) Act.
In a letter sent to House Majority Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, chairperson of the House Judicial Committee, the representatives stressed the urgent need for oversight and action on Supreme Court ethics to preserve the integrity of the court. Earlier this month, multiple reports uncovered decades of undisclosed gifts and travel received by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from political donor and political activist Harlan Crow totaling millions of dollars.
“The recent revelation of decades of repeated ethical lapses from Clarence Thomas underscores the vital need for the Supreme Court to be subject to ethics regulations,” Goldman said. “Justice Thomas’s conflicts of interests have not only permanently undermined his ability to do the job, they also have severely damaged the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Ethics regulations are imperative for the legislative and executive branches, and it is long past time that the Supreme Court be held to ethical standards that assure the American people that the court is acting in the interests of the country, not the justices.”
The SCERT Act would create a binding code of ethics for the Supreme Court, as well as guardrails against conflicts of interests. SCERT would also require minimum lobbying, gift, travel and income disclosure, disclosure of funding sources for amicus briefs, circumstances that require recusals and an investigative board composed of Circuit Court judges to review complaints submitted against Supreme Court justices, and public posting of their decisions.
Among the gifts and travel from Crow that Thomas reportedly failed to disclose was at least one trip valued at more than $500,000. Reports have also revealed that Crow bought properties from Thomas and his relatives for at least double what Thomas had said they were worth. The associate justice’s family allegedly received up to $750,000 in income yearly from a firm that has not existed since 2006.
Thomas’s pattern of alleged unethical behavior dates to at least 2011, when it was revealed that he had failed to disclose employment details for his wife, Virginia Thomas, despite her earning more than $686,000 from a conservative think tank, income from a conservative college and reimbursements for trips to speak at law schools.
In a press release, Goldman cited an October 2022 poll by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center that found 53 percent of Americans had little or no trust in the Supreme Court to operate in the best interests of the American people.