WASHINGTON, D.C., August 17, 2023 – New polling from the Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, Stand Up America, and End Citizens United finds 78% of respondents want Congress to take action to impose a code of ethics and create greater accountability for the U.S. Supreme Court justices.
The polling results show Americans believe the Supreme Court should be the gold standard for judicial ethics, and the justices are falling far short of that standard, which is informed heavily by disapproval of the justices’ unethical behavior. Confidence in the Supreme Court has fallen dramatically, with only 40% of voters showing a great deal or fair amount of confidence — down from 53% in June of 2019.
Even before the latest ethics questions surrounding Justice Thomas, the poll found that 64% of voters, when informed of reports about Thomas’s behavior up to mid-July, think Thomas should resign, and 72% support Congress investigating Thomas’s ethical violations.
“When is enough enough? Voters are clearly fed up with the reckless and selfish behavior of Justice Thomas. We are even more fed up with his colleagues’ tolerance of his misconduct. It is time to hold the justices accountable and impose robust ethics reforms to prevent this behavior moving forward,” said Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Rakim H.D. Brooks. “The American people are giving us a clear mandate: Court ethics reform now. They deserve a Court that they can trust to uphold the rights of all people, but they clearly see one that instead favors the wealthy and powerful. If lawmakers are not prepared to take action now, the voters will surely elect new leaders who will. Democracy cannot survive where one of its branches is critically impaired.”
“The Supreme Court is mired in an ethical crisis, and these findings show that Americans expect Congress to step up and hold the Court accountable. The steep decline in public confidence in the Court––the result of recent corruption scandals and years of attacks on our fundamental rights––emphasizes the urgent need for action,” said Brett Edkins, Managing Director of Policy and Political Affairs at Stand Up America. “The American people are demanding a Supreme Court that upholds the highest ethical standards. Congress must heed their call and restore trust in our nation’s top court.”
“The corruption scandals plaguing the court reaffirm Americans’ concerns about the scales of justice being tilted. They know that justice is not truly blind, but instead, it’s a commodity that is simply bought and paid for by billionaires and shadowy dark money groups,” said End Citizens United Chief Program Officer Jody Murphy. “These results should serve as a wake-up call for Congress. The American people want more transparency from the Supreme Court and they want accountability when the justices run afoul of the law. Anything short of this will empower and embolden the corrupt justices.”
More than ever, concerns surrounding the Court, from its extreme rulings to extraordinary ethics violations, will likely drive progressive turnout in the 2024 election. When asked how important the Court will be when they vote, 56% of Democrats said it would be very important compared to 42% of Republicans.