Supreme Court adopts modified code of ethics policy
FOX News correspondent David Spunt has the latest details on the Supreme Court adopting a formal code of conduct on Special Report.
FIRST ON FOX – The Committee on Financial Disclosures in the Judicial Conference is reviewing a complaint against Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson citing a failure to include her husband’s income in financial disclosures.
A conservative policy group, the Center for Renewing America, last month filed a complaint with the Judicial Conference – the governing body of federal courts – alleging that Jackson “willfully failed to disclose” required information about her husband’s malpractice consulting income for more than a decade.
On Dec. 21, the group was notified that its complaint had been referred to the Financial Disclosers Committee for official review.
“We are hopeful that the Judicial Conference takes a long, hard look at the ethics concerns surrounding Justice Jackson and ensures there is not a double standard for justices,” Russ Vought, a former senior Trump administration official and president of CRA, said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts, alongside her husband, Patrick Jackson. (Supreme Court of the United States/Handout via Reuters)
“While the Left has made it a sport to attack the character of conservative Supreme Court justices, they’ve turned a blind eye to actual indiscretions and appearances of corruption actively happening,” he said.
CRA’s letter suggests that the Judicial Conference should ultimately refer Jackson’s possible ethics violations to Attorney General Merrick Garland for investigation and possible civil enforcement.
The letter noted that federal judges are legally required to disclose the “source of items of earned income earned by a spouse from any person which exceed $1,000… except… if the spouse is self-employed in business or a profession, only the nature of such business or profession needs be reported.”
As part of her nomination to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Jackson disclosed the names of two legal medical malpractice consulting clients who paid her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, more than $1,000 for the year 2011, the letter said.
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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and husband Patrick Jackson on the front plaza of the Supreme Court building following an investiture ceremony on Sept. 30, 2022. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In subsequent filings, however, Jackson “repeatedly failed to disclose that her husband received income from medical malpractice consulting fees,” the letter read.
“We know this by Justice Jackson’s own admission in her amended disclosure form for 2020, filed when she was nominated to the Supreme Court, that ‘some of my previously filed reports inadvertently omitted’ her husband’s income from ‘consulting on medical malpractice cases,’” the letter stated.
Vought said in the letter that “Jackson has not even attempted to list the years for which her previously filed disclosures omitted her husband’s consulting income. Instead, in her admission of omissions on her 2020 amended disclosure form (filed in 2022), Justice Jackson provided only the vague statement that ‘some’ of those past disclosures contained material omissions.”
Vought, who headed up the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President Trump, argues that Dr. Jackson’s income does not qualify for the “self-employment” exception. The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (EIGA) requires Justice Jackson to identify the “source of items of earned income earned by a spouse from any person which exceeds $1,000.”
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The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
The former OMB chief argued that since Jackson was aware of the requirements in 2012 enough to list the specific sources of income for her first disclosure filing but not in subsequent filings, apart from admitting that she left off some of her husband’s income, her actions amount to “willful” violation of the law.
The letter from CRA comes as left-wing advocacy groups and Democrats in Congress have criticized conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for not reporting vacations that were paid for by friends who are also GOP donors.
Both justices have maintained that they have fully complied with ethics requirements.
The Supreme Court in November issued a new “Code of Conduct” following months of heightened scrutiny from Senate Judiciary Democrats pushing for new ethics laws for the high court.
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“The undersigned Justices are promulgating this Code of Conduct to set out succinctly and gather in one place the ethics rules and principles that guide the conduct of the Members of the Court,” the announcement from the justices read.
The justices said the new conduct guide was “for the most part… not new.”
“The absence of a Code, however, has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the Justices of this Court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules. To dispel this misunderstanding, we are issuing this Code, which largely represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct,” the justices said.
Brianna Herlihy is a politics writer for Fox News Digital.