After the Supreme Court announced it was implementing a code of ethics this week, Chuck Schumer noted that it was “an important first step” but didn’t go far enough.
There will, of course, never be enough steps, because the entire ginned-up controversy over ethics is a cynical ploy to destroy the legitimacy of the court. And everyone, other than perhaps the most gullible partisan sap, understands what’s happening.
In a statement, the Supreme Court explains that the new code, which merely codifies existing behavior, was needed to correct the public’s “misunderstanding” regarding the justices’ ethical obligations. It won’t. Because there is no “misunderstanding.” The effort to destroy the Supreme Court’s legitimacy is a highly coordinated partisan scheme.
It begins with wealthy anti-court oppo groups conjuring some rickety accusation that can’t withstand even the slightest inquiry. That oppo is shopped to accommodating partisan outlets — some, like ProPublica, are already on the payroll — to create the appearance of widespread, organic reporting. The tinny accusations are then laundered by the media, which prop up the claims with thousands of words of pseudojournalistic verbiage and sleek production.
Beneath the patina of professionalism, each new story is dumber than the last. Clarence Thomas vacations with rich friends. Clarence Thomas shares meals with former clerks. Clarence Thomas has a wife with her own opinions. Clarence Thomas belongs to an organization of wealthy families that gives college scholarships to thousands of poor kids. All originalist justices have been targeted, but there is a special disdain for Thomas, who’s committed the grievous sins of defying the racial stereotypes of the left and showing contempt for a media that’s been trying to destroy him for more than 30 years.
None of the stories, however, show anything remotely approaching a conflict of interest by anyone. None show Thomas, or any of the justices, altering or deviating from their long-held judicial philosophy to help anyone benefit, much less themselves.
Then again, for a contemporary left that demands the court submit to their partisan impulses rather than the law, it’s the consistency of originalists that’s the real problem. Recall that while speaking to pro-abortion protesters in front of the Supreme Court in 2020, Schumer threatened two sitting justices with repercussions if they knocked down the concocted right to an abortion. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” the senator said. Indeed, the same people who have conniptions every time Donald Trump says something stupid about a judge, were not only fine with this kind of threatening rhetoric, they went about destroying the court’s reputation and legitimacy.
Schumer has no more constitutional power to dictate the court’s ethics policy than the court does dictating Senate rules. It doesn’t matter what Schumer thinks is a good start or not. This is why justices are given lifetime appointments and independence. Roberts should have told the New York Senator to pound sand. Instead, the Chief Justice was bullied, reflecting his long, unfortunate deference to politicians.
Now, the rest of the media gets to report on a Supreme Court that is “embroiled in an ethics scandal” or some such misleading language. Now, they report on polls showing declining trust in an institution they’ve spent years damaging with deceitful activism. Now, Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, and other crooked senators, will say, “see, even the court knows there is a problem. Something needs to be done.”
All Roberts did was create the impression that justices have acted dishonorably. It will incentivize more hit pieces and more demands from Democrats. All Democrats see now is a judicial branch that can be bullied.