In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Justice Samuel Alito says that “Congress lacks the power to impose a code of ethics on the Supreme Court.” As AP News points out, this statement comes after Democrats “pushed Supreme Court ethics legislation through a Senate committee, though the bill’s prospects in the full Senate are dim.”
In the interview, which took place in New York in early July, Alito says, “I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court—period,” stepping forward as the first member of the court to balk — this openly — at the up-tick in scrutiny of general attitudes and behavior when the black robes are off.
“Congress did not create the Supreme Court,” Alito said. Elsewhere in the interview, he addressed recent scrutiny of his own actions and ethics, saying, “I marvel at all the nonsense that has been written about me in the last year. The traditional idea about how judges and justices should behave is they should be mute. But that’s just not happening, and so at a certain point I’ve said to myself, nobody else is going to do this, so I have to defend myself.” Alito has been called into question for not disclosing a luxury vacation in Alaska that he took with a Republican donor “who had business interests before the court.” Justice Clarence Thomas has also been scrutinized for enjoying similar vacations with donors.