Activists hold signs calling on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign

Activists hold signs calling on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign during a protest on April 19, 2023

(Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Most US Voters Want Stricter Supreme Court Ethics Code

"Americans can see through the court's failed attempt at a code of conduct," said one group. "It's time for Congress to take action and pass actual ethics reform."

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. voters want federal lawmakers to pass a stricter ethics policy for the nation's Supreme Court, according to polling results released Tuesday by the progressive advocacy group Demand Justice.

The poll was conducted by YouGov after the Supreme Court announced last week that it had formally adopted a new code of conduct following months of outrage over reporting on relationships between right-wing justices and billionaires. YouGov explained to those surveyed that justices have been criticized for failing to disclose taking gifts and travel from political donors.

YouGov also told voters that supporters of a stricter ethics code say the newly adopted policy "has no way to actually enforce the rules" and believe "Congress should continue to investigate corruption allegations," while opponents of congressional action believe members of the court should be "allowed to determine their own rules without interference" and trusted to enforce them.

Across party lines, 74% of voters agreed that Congress should approve a stricter ethics code and continue to probe "the ties between justices and political megadonors," including 90% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 57% of Republicans.

In response to the findings, End Citizens United said that "Americans can see through the court's failed attempt at a code of conduct. It's time for Congress to take action and pass actual ethics reform."

As Common Dreams reported when the new code was announced last week, critics have condemned it as a "toothless PR stunt" intended to curb media coverage of potential corruption and "halt momentum for transparency and real reform."

Amid a wave of reporting about Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito's connections to billionaire megadonors and Leonard Leo—who leads the Federalist Society, a primary force in pushing U.S. courts to the right—Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act in July.

However, the bill is unlikely to win approval from the full Senate or GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Still, the Senate panel—chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)—is expected to continue its probe, possibly with subpoenas targeting Leo and Thomas benefactor Harlan Crow.

Demand Justice was among over a dozen groups that last week called on the committee to issue subpoenas, arguing that "we must learn the full scope of these hidden efforts to improperly influence the Supreme Court and the extent of Justices Thomas' and Alito's ethical wrongdoings."

Join the Movement: Become Part of the Solution Today

We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.

Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.