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Senate Democrats urge chief justice to release Supreme Court ethics rules

Several Democratic members of the Senate sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts urging him to release the Supreme Court’s ethics rules and confirm that the Court’s justices follow the same ethics code that binds other federal judges.

In the letter, sent Monday, Sens. Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Sheldon Whitehouse and Al Franken pressed the Court to be more transparent about the “internal resolutions the Court has adopted to address ethical issues.”

“Because we have a high regard for the Supreme Court and its Members, we emphasize that we do not intend to question or impugn the ethics of any individual Justice or the Court itself by making these requests,” the senators wrote.  “We have worked for many years to increase openness and transparency in government, and hope to increase public trust and confidence in all of our institutions, including the Supreme Court.  We firmly believe that full disclosure of the Court’s rules and its processes can only lead to greater confidence in the Court, and we look forward to working with you and the other members of the Court to achieve this goal.”

The request comes as critics of Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan continue to raise questions about their participation in the cases challenging the federal health care law, which will be heard by the full Court next month. In his annual State of the Judiciary report, Roberts stressed that the justices abide by the same ethics rules as other federal judges, and rejected the suggestion that the Court’s ethics rules need to be changed.

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