Of all the public officials in government, one would expect those serving in the justice system would be above partisanship to avoid the appearance of bias in their official roles as judges. America’s judicial system has rules to assure the public that the men and women sitting in judgment of American citizens and deciding the constitutionality of laws are ethical, and they apply to all judges except those serving in the highest court in the land. It is likely that Supreme Court justices are exempt from ethics standards because they go through an intensive vetting process just to be nominated, and then are subjected to a strident Senate confirmation process before being sworn in to interpret the U.S. Constitution as it applies to laws and issues affecting the entire nation. It is troubling when Supreme Court justices give the appearance of overt bias in their decisions on a consistent basis because they are appointed for life, and with no clear code of conduct to adhere to, the temptation to actively promote one exclusive political ideology with impunity may be difficult to avoid; for two current conservatives on the High Court, it has proven impossible.
For three years, at least, there have been nagging questions about Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia’s close ties to right-wing organizations and their funding mechanism the Koch Brothers, but without a rigorous code of ethics in place there was little chance they would be held to account for, or forced to stop, using their positions on the Court to promote the Koch brothers’ right-wing agenda. Two days ago, Clarence Thomas was at it again when he appeared at a Federalist Society “fundraiser” as a featured speaker that two other High Court justices, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito also attended. It is a violation of Canon 4C of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges who are forbidden from being “a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program” of a fundraising event, but because Thomas, a federal judge, sits on the nation’s highest court he is exempt, apparently, from adhering to any code of conduct. Just when it appeared no-one in a position of authority would take action and demand Thomas be held accountable for his recurring ethical violations, a lone elected representative once again spoke out for the American people.