Leadership by example is the best kind of leadership I can find among those in position to assume positions that enable them to call the cadence for others to follow.
Why, then, doesn’t the nation’s highest court have a code of ethics and a strong enforcement policy in case the men and women who serve on that court mess up?
The U.S. Supreme Court is being drawn into the proverbial crosshairs of those who believe the highest court in the nation is failing itself and the judicial system by not leading by example.
Justices on the court have engaged in some mighty nasty side hustles of late. My favorite, of course, is Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni, being involved in the MAGA movement to overturn the 2020 presidential election. It coincides with Justice Thomas being the only member of the nine-justice court to demand that Donald Trump turn over his White House records to the Justice Department during its probe into the 1/6 insurrection.
Coincidence? I think not!
However, there is nothing on the books at the Supreme Court building that enables anyone to take any action against Justice Thomas. There must be some law enacted that compels the court to establish a code of ethics and then ensures that the court punishes its members when they violate that code.
I recently interviewed a candidate for the Farmersville City Council here in Collin County. I asked him to describe his leadership ability. He said he leads “by example,” that he “wouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”
That kind of creed ought to apply to the Supreme Court. It decides on others’ ethics issues all the time. If they break the rules and their case ends up in front of the nine justices, then the court has the power to decide whether a defendant broke the ethics rules.
Furthermore, lower federal and state courts have ethics rules they demand that judges follow. When is it ever OK for the court that oversees those lower courts’ adherence to the rules to be free of following rules of its own?