60+ National Organizations Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Address Judicial Ethics Crisis

Courts News 06.10.24

Contact: Patrick McNeil, [email protected]

WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, joined by more than 60 national organizations, wrote to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today urging them to use the full power of the committee to investigate and respond swiftly to the most recent revelations of unethical and deeply troubling behavior by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

“The display of flags affiliated with political extremists calling for rejection of the 2020 presidential election results, as well as his refusal to recuse himself from cases that directly relate to the 2020 presidential election, erode confidence that justices will comport themselves with integrity and impartiality, further degrading the public’s esteem for our Supreme Court,” the letter states.

As it is unacceptable that Justice Alito refuses to heed the calls to recuse himself, the groups continue to call for:

  • Adoption of an enforceable Code of Conduct for Supreme Court justices, as the unenforceable code released in November 2023 has been insufficient to prevent justices from engaging in behaviors that violate it.
  • Passage of robust judicial ethics reform legislation, including desperately needed recusal and transparency measures.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into Justice Alito’s behavior and issue findings into any potential violations of the Code of Conduct for Supreme Court justices and 28 U.S.C. 455.

We are grateful for the leadership demonstrated by Chair Durbin, Senator Whitehouse, and other senators who have responded to these reports. Still, there is much more work to be done.

Given Justice Alito’s dismissive and combative response and his refusal to recuse, as well as Justice Thomas’ ongoing ethics failures, further action is needed to protect our democracy, prevent future violations of this nature, and restore public confidence in the judiciary,” the groups write. “These abuses of power, left unchecked, have already become more frequent and more severe, further corroding the public’s faith in our judicial system and weakening our democracy. Without immediate and public investigatory action, this crisis will only deepen.

The Leadership Conference, our Fair Courts Task Force, and the civil rights community have worked for decades to advocate for a federal judiciary that works for all of us and that is staffed by diverse and ethical jurists who will fairly administer justice and who will instill public trust in all courts’ decisions. This vital work continues with urgency amidst the ongoing and escalating judicial ethics crisis, which has raised serious questions about the impartiality and integrity of our nation’s most powerful court and the justices who make decisions impacting — and often undermining and rolling back — our civil and human rights.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.