The U.S. Supreme Court began its new term Oct. 2 amid continuing controversy over whether its current handling of ethics issues is sufficient.
The American Bar Association has filed one amicus brief so far for the new term, and more are expected. Among the cases the court could take up this term are those involving First Amendment issues, state restrictions on social media platforms, and a state ban on conversion therapy for minors that a family counselor claims violates his free speech and religious rights.
The ABA amicus brief urges the court to uphold congressional protections against removing administrative law judges (ALJs) in federal agencies without cause. The court previously accepted a case that looks at whether Congress violated Article II of the U.S. Constitution by granting removal protections to certain ALJs.
In February, the ABA House of Delegates approved new policy that urged the court to adopt a binding code of ethics that is akin to the code of conduct the Judicial Conference of the United States adopted for other federal judges. The justices now are not subject to a defined code of conduct.
Last month, Justice Elena Kagan became the first sitting justice to endorse a code of conduct, saying at an appearance at Notre Dame Law School that it would be “a good thing” in the wake of allegations that Supreme Court members have fallen short of required standards. Media reports quoted her as saying that signing on to a binding code would help convince the public that “we were adhering to the highest standards of conduct.”