The Supreme Court’s new ethics code is a joke

“The code, in other words, codifies the same rules that Justice Clarence Thomas followed when he spent nine days vacationing on Republican billionaire Harlan Crow’s superyacht — a trip which “could have exceeded $500,000” in value, according to ProPublica. The code also locks in place the same rules Thomas followed during his frequent summer trips to Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks. The code “represents a codification of principles” that Thomas followed when he bought a $267,230 RV that was underwritten by Anthony Welters, another of the many wealthy individuals who have lavished gifts on Thomas since he joined the Court.”

“The new code also seeks to “dispel” any impression that the justices “regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules,” which may have been created when Justice Samuel Alito accepted a $100,000 private jet flight to Alaska from Republican billionaire Paul Singer, where Alito stayed in a fishing lodge that ordinarily charges more than $1,000 a day to guests, and where Alito was reportedly served wine that costs more than $1,000 a bottle.
The new code, which, again, by its own explicit terms largely seeks to put in writing the same rules that these justices followed when they accepted luxurious gifts from major Republican Party donors, is also almost entirely unenforceable. If a litigant, or one of the more than 300 million Americans governed by the Supreme Court, believes that one of the justices is violating the newly written-down rules, there is no mechanism to enforce those rules against a justice.”

“The new code imposes no meaningful obligations on the justices. It explicitly disclaims any desire to do so. It accuses the Court’s critics of “misunderstanding” the justices’ past behavior, when it really isn’t hard to understand the ethical implications of taking a $500,000 gift from a major political donor.”

Biden’s NIH pick gives Elizabeth Warren a major concession

“President Joe Biden’s pick to run the National Institutes of Health has agreed to a pair of major ethics demands made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to help jumpstart her stalled candidacy for the top medical research job.
Monica Bertagnolli, who was nominated more than three months ago, pledged to not seek employment or compensation from any of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies for four years after she leaves government”

“Warren has made it a practice to push Biden nominees to adopt stronger ethical standards, in a bid to address the “revolving door” between government agencies and the industries that they supervise.

Last year, she secured similar commitments from Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf not to seek employment or compensation from pharmaceutical or medical device companies he interacts with at the agency for four years after leaving government.

Warren, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee and Armed Services Committee, has also sought to extract ethics concessions from nominees that come up in front of those panels — including top Federal Reserve officials and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“Going above and beyond what federal law requires, as you are doing here, sends a powerful message that you are working on behalf of the American people and no one else,” she told Austin in 2021, after he committed not to become a defense contractor or lobbyist following his stint in the administration.”

Partisanship Is Muddling the Important Debate Over Supreme Court Ethics

“Yes, those publications have liberal biases. And, yes, some progressives are using the Thomas/Alito/Gorsuch reports to undermine the conservative majority’s legitimacy and push dangerous court expansion plans. But all of these nondisclosures, luxury trips, and gift-taking still seem sleazy.”