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The current state of the Supreme Court raises concerns about ethical behavior and judicial integrity. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have been under scrutiny for failing to disclose gifts, vacations, and family payments from wealthy donors with business before the court, as well as expressing partisan views. The lack of accountability and transparency undermines the court’s reputation and demands action. With public approval at record lows, Congress needs to enforce judicial ethics and require justices to recuse themselves from cases where conflicts of interest arise.

Recent incidents, such as Justice Alito’s wife hoisting a pro-Trump flag following the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Justice Thomas’s wife’s involvement in subverting the election, raise serious questions about impartiality. Federal law clearly requires recusal when impartiality may be questioned, yet these justices have failed to do so. The Ethics in Government Act mandates that judges must disqualify themselves in such situations, but the Supreme Court’s newly adopted ethics code appears ineffective in addressing these issues.

Although Chief Justice John Roberts chairs the Judicial Conference, which is responsible for referring cases of willful law-breaking to the Justice Department, no action has been taken against justices Alito and Thomas. Democrats in the Senate have been reluctant to address these ethical breaches, despite their power to hold hearings and subpoena witnesses. The lack of consequences for this behavior sets a dangerous precedent for future justices who may feel empowered to disregard ethical norms.

History shows that the Supreme Court’s credibility is essential to maintain public trust and uphold the rule of law. Young voters who have grown up witnessing controversial court decisions and political manipulation need to see that the court can be held accountable. As a vital institution in American democracy, the Supreme Court must demonstrate a capacity for shame and a commitment to fairness. Congress has the responsibility to ensure that justices uphold ethical standards and work towards restoring public trust in the judiciary.

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