The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed criticism by releasing an 8-page “Code of Conduct,” aimed at providing transparent and enforceable ethics guidelines for its justices. The code, mirroring rules for lower federal court judges, emphasizes justices’ need to “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety” in their actions, and all nine current justices have signed it.

The Court is responding to concerns about its transparency and ethics enforcement. Chief Justice John Roberts is reviewing internal oversight mechanisms and considering additional resources to handle ethics issues.

Senate Democrats are also pushing for a code of conduct with independent oversight, a move opposed by the justices, who cite constitutional concerns.

This development follows a decline in public confidence in the Court and ethics controversies involving justices like Clarence Thomas. Despite denials of wrongdoing, some justices, responding to public pressure, support the idea of an ethics code to boost public confidence.

The code reiterates principles outlined in a joint statement by the justices in April, emphasizing the importance of judicial integrity and impartiality. It discourages personal influence and permits extrajudicial activities unrelated to the law, but cautions against using taxpayer-funded staff for non-court work.

However, progressive groups find the code insufficient, lacking enforceability. Nonetheless, the code signifies a step towards greater transparency and ethics in the highest court.