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Noah Feldman

Ethics Code Wouldn’t Fix Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis

The US high court has undercut itself by making radical, reactionary decisions — something a code of conduct can’t solve.

Fired up, but not about judicial ethics.

Fired up, but not about judicial ethics.

Photographer: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Pressure is rising on the US Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code. On its face, this sounds reasonable. What’s not to like about ethics? But it’s worth asking what problem the change would solve.

If adopting an ethics code is meant to be symbolic — signaling that no one, not even the justices, is above the law — then it might have some value.