US SC releases first-ever set of ethics rules

by IANS |

Washington, Nov 14 (IANS) The US Supreme Court has released its first-ever set of ethics rules governing its nine justices on how they should behave, perform their duties and conduct themselves in non-judicial and financial activities.


Earlier this year, the most powerful legal body in the country had released a "statement on ethics principles and practices", but the nine-page "code of conduct" released on Monday provides significantly more detail, the BBC reported.


The move came as the Supreme Court is under increasing scrutiny following recent media reports of gifts and holiday arrangements lavished on several of its jurists.


While federal judges on lower courts have been governed by an ethical code since 1973, this marks the first time the country's highest court has set out its own rules.


In a paragraph introducing the guidance, the justices said that they had long abided by unwritten ethical rules derived from a variety of sources, including the lower-court code.


They said the absence of explicit rules, however, led to the "misunderstanding" that justices viewed themselves as unrestricted by any ethical guidelines.


The code contains no enforcement mechanism. Justices will have to choose to abide by its "rules and principles".


Under the rules, justices are advised to consider whether speaking at an outside event "would create an appearance of impropriety in the minds of reasonable members of the public", the BBC reported.


It also notes that most academic, legal, religious or cultural associations would not present such a problem, while events affiliated with political parties or campaigns would.


The court further set out circumstances under which justices should disqualify themselves from participation in a case.

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