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Memo to Supreme Court judges: Got ethics?

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POSTED February 21, 2012 10:09 p.m.

Good grief – how can someone so smart be so stupid? So clueless? So wrong?

John Roberts is not just any someone. He’s Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the judicial body of last resort with god-like power to impose “justice” and alter the rules that the rest of us are expected to obey. But what rules of ethical conduct must these nine justices obey?

The answer is: None. While there are written codes of conduct for every other judge in America, the Supremes have majestically exempted themselves from any such enforceable ethical burden. This is now causing a public stink for the Court, since three of the exalted jurists have recently been exposed for participation in nakedly political events to advance the fortunes of right-wing corporate interests for whom they’ve been ruling. This political partisanship is expressly prohibited by the code of conduct that governs other federal judges, so why should these nine public officials be exempt?

Because, explained Chief Justice Roberts, all nine of us are “jurists of exceptional integrity and experience.” He added that they do “consult” the code, ducking the obvious difference that he and his eight privileged colleagues can ignore the code with impunity. “At the end of the day,” sniffed the imperious Roberts, “no compilation of ethical rules can guarantee integrity.” Wow, Chief, how sage is that? Since written rules can’t “guarantee” your integrity, why have them for lower courts, for any public office holder, or even for common citizens?

Roberts proves that you can’t cover stupidity with a law degree and a black robe. A coalition of citizen organizations is demanding that the Court stop toying with the integrity of the judicial system and at least follow the code of conduct for other judges. To join the push, contact www.commoncause.org.

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