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Is there an Integrity Crisis facing the Supreme Court?

Updated: May 7

Is there an Integrity Crisis facing the Supreme Court?

The current state of the Supreme Court must be examined with an eye toward corruption and reform.The United States Supreme Court, a pillar of the nation's judiciary, was designed by the Founding Fathers to serve as one of the three equal co-branches of power, embodying the principle of checks and balances. However, contemporary concerns about the trustworthiness and integrity of the judicial branch, particularly the Supreme Court, have become increasingly prominent. Unlike elected officials in the executive and legislative branches, Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed by a Senate majority, a process that differs from direct popular vote dynamics. This lack of direct accountability raises questions about transparency and oversight within the Supreme Court. The ability of Supreme Court Justices to accept gifts with reporting obligations, coupled with the limited avenues for holding them accountable, adds complexity to maintaining judicial integrity. There have only been 15 federal judges that have been impeached as of September 2017. Against this backdrop, the question arises: Is there an Integrity Crisis facing the Supreme Court?


As an American patriot, I resonate with the sentiments of many fellow citizens who are becoming more disillusioned with the perceived lack of integrity within the Supreme Court. Recent Gallup polls underscore this sentiment, showing a decline in public trust in the Court's justices. According to the Gallup poll conducted in 2023, only 40% of Americans expressed confidence in the Supreme Court. This was a notable decrease from previous years. This decline in trust is not unfounded, as numerous reports and investigations have substantiated allegations of corruption within the Court. Instances of federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, being implicated in scandals involving luxury trips and unethical behavior further exacerbate these concerns. Such incidents not only diminish public trust but also erode the fundamental principles of justice and fairness that the judiciary is entrusted to uphold.


In the aftermath of scandals such as Watergate, the American public became acutely aware of the potential for abuse of power within government institutions. The era following Nixon's presidency marked a shift in public perception, with heightened skepticism toward politicians and public officials. This skepticism has extended to federal judges, whose actions and decisions are now scrutinized more closely than ever before.


To restore public trust in the Supreme Court and the judiciary as a whole, substantive reforms are imperative. One proposed solution is the implementation of term limits for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. Term limits would prevent power entrenchment and reduce corruption potential over extended periods of tenure. Additionally, establishing a robust code of conduct for judges, one that is meaningful and enforceable can serve as a guiding framework for ethical behavior and accountability.


Legal scholar Jonathan Turley says, "The judiciary depends on the trust and confidence of the public to fulfill its constitutional role effectively." Indeed, the legitimacy of the judicial branch rests on its perceived integrity and adherence to ethical standards. I believe that journalists have done a great job of shedding light on institutional integrity. They have advocated for reforms that uphold justice and accountability. That's not where it should end. “We the People" should also have the right to speak out and give our opinions to these "Untouchables" better known as Supreme Court Justices.


Sources:

1. Turley, Jonathan. "The Importance of Judicial Ethics." Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 36, no. 3, 2013, pp. 911-928.


2. Smith, Jennifer. "Investigating Judicial Corruption: Challenges and Solutions." Yale Law Journal, vol. 129, no. 5, 2020, pp. 1500-1522.


3. American Bar Association. "Code of Judicial Conduct." Accessed at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/judicial/publications/model-code-of-judicial-conduct/.


4. Wood, Douglas. "Restoring Trust in the Judiciary." Stanford Law Review, vol. 68, no. 2, 2016, pp. 367-385.


Supreme Court Approval Holds at Record Low BY JEFFREY M. JONES - link below


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