The U.S. Supreme Court. Front row, from: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Back row, from left: Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

WASHINGTON – During a full Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on July 20, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) voted to advance the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act out of committee.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (PBS)

The bill, of which Hirono is an original co-sponsor, would require the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of ethics. 

“The highest court in the land should be setting an example, in terms of abiding by a code of ethics,” said Hirono during the hearing. “We have a code of ethics in the Senate. Why shouldn’t the Supreme Court?”

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would implement changes related to ethical standards, financial disclosure requirements, and recusal requirements that apply to Supreme Court justices. Specifically, the bill would:

• Create a process for investigating misconduct at the Supreme Court;

• Strengthen recusal and disclosure standards for justices receiving gifts or travel;

• Mandate the creation of a binding code of ethics for Supreme Court justices.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hirono has consistently championed more robust ethics and accountability for the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year, she introduced the Stop Judge Shopping Act, legislation to combat “judge shopping” in federal courts by giving the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia exclusive jurisdiction over cases that would have national implications.

Hirono is an original co-sponsor of the Supreme Court Ethics Act, legislation that would, among other things, require a code of conduct for Supreme Court justices.

Last May, she introduced a new version of the Twenty-First Century Court Act to promote accountability and increase transparency in federal courts.

She also introduced the Judiciary Accountability Act of 2021, legislation to protect employees of the federal judiciary from discrimination and harassment.

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