July 17, 2023
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Re: Support S. 359, the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) believes that everyone has a right to clean air, clean water, public lands, and a safe climate protected by a just and equitable democracy. Each year, LCV publishes the National Environmental Scorecard, which details the voting records of members of Congress on environmental legislation. The Scorecard is distributed to LCV members, concerned voters nationwide, and the media.
LCV urges you to vote YES on S. 359, the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act (SCERT Act), an important and timely proposal to ensure the highest court in the nation does not operate with the lowest ethical standards.
Unlike all other federal judges, Supreme Court Justices are not bound by a code of conduct. This raises significant concerns about both actual impropriety and the appearance of impropriety—a particularly grave issue for Justices with life tenure who frequently get the last word on matters of national import. Congress has the constitutional power to protect the integrity of our institutions, as it does by imposing binding ethics rules on the Congress itself, on the executive branch, and on lower court judges. We need high ethical standards for officials of all ideologies, at all levels, in all three branches of government.
The SCERT Act would require the Supreme Court to adopt and publish a binding code of conduct, create a process for ethics complaints to be processed, improve disclosure for gifts, travel, and outside income, and strengthen recusal requirements to avoid conflicts of interest, among other provisions.
In the words of the late Justice Robert Jackson, “[w]e are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” The rule of law requires that the nation’s most powerful judges earn the people’s trust. Congress must ensure that they do.
We urge you to support the SCERT Act and will strongly consider including votes on this in our next Scorecard. If you need more information, please reach out to a member of our Government Relations team.