The judiciary, both at the state and federal levels, plays a crucial role in interpreting the law and ensuring justice. To maintain public trust, there are specific codes of conduct that judges must follow. But who enforces these codes, and how are they applied to the highest Court in America: the United States Supreme Court?
State and Federal Courts: Codes of Conduct
Each state has its own set of judicial conduct rules. While these can vary, many are based on the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct. State-level commissions or boards typically oversee enforcement. If judges are found to be in violation, they can face various consequences, ranging from reprimands to removal from the bench.
At the federal level, the Code of Conduct for United States Judges provides guidance. It addresses several areas such as integrity, impartiality, and personal activities. The Judicial Conference of the United States, the principal policy-making body for the federal Court system, is responsible for its enforcement.
Congressional Control over the U.S. Supreme Court
Unlike the Federal District Courts and lower appellate Courts, the United States Supreme Court operates independently. Nevertheless, Congress still controls many aspects such as:
Congress is responsible for determining the Supreme Court’s budget. While the Court requests funds, it is up to Congress to approve or modify these requests.
- Jurisdictional Powers
The Constitution grants Congress the ability to establish lower federal Courts. Moreover, Congress can also influence the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, determining which types of cases the Court can review.
- Size of the Court
The number of justices on the Supreme Court is not set in the Constitution. This means Congress can (and has) changed the number of seats on the bench. The current number of seats on the Supreme Court, nine, has remained unchanged since 1869.
The U.S. Supreme Court and Its Unique Position
Interestingly, the United States Supreme Court does not have a specific, written code of conduct like other federal Courts. This absence raises questions about the oversight of justices at the highest level.
The Supreme Court operates on a foundation of trust and the assumption that justices will act in the best interest of justice and fairness. As a separate branch of government, it claims the autonomy to create its own rules but has chosen not to do so. Discipline or removal of a Supreme Court Justice is rare and challenging. It requires significant Congressional action. A justice can be impeached by the House of Representatives and then tried by the Senate. Conviction and removal require a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
See What Gary Bruce Says About the Codes of Conduct for Judges
Gary Bruce, an injury attorney in Columbus, Georgia, discusses the codes of conduct for judges in a recent episode of “Legal Break” on WTVM’s local news show. According to Gary Bruce, all lawyers are bound by ethical rules and codes of conduct and Supreme Court Justices are still lawyers, so they should be no different. Gary Bruce raises questions about the importance of having oversight for the Supreme Court Justices to answer to if these ethics are not followed. This link will take you to the video: https://www.garybrucelaw.com/video/wtvm-legal-break-supreme-court-ethics-rules/
The United States Supreme Court holds an exceptional place in the judicial system. While its justices have no formalized code of conduct, they are not entirely without oversight. Congress holds specific checks and balances over the Court, ensuring it remains a body dedicated to fair and just interpretations of the law. Still, as public figures operating at the highest level of law, justices are always under the watchful eye of the public they serve. Defining ethics rules should not be a controversial topic but it has emerged as such, and the Court seems to be losing the trust of the public as a result.
If you find yourself grappling with legal questions or in need of advice concerning a case, do not hesitate to reach out to The Law Office of Gary Bruce. With over 30 years of experience in the Columbus, Georgia, Ft. Moore, Georgia, and Phenix City, Alabama area, we have dedicated ourselves to serving individuals like you—those dealing with insurance companies and parties that neglect to acknowledge the full extent of damages caused by their negligence. Remember, understanding your rights and the nuance of the law is crucial, and getting the right advice can make all the difference. Call us today for a free consultation and let our seasoned team guide you.