The Supreme Court was under pressure to take action
The Supreme Court was under pressure to take action. Reuters

The Supreme Court published on its website a code of conduct after revelations of indirect political involvement and gifts to members of the court generated pressure for action.

"For the most part these rules and principles are not new: the Court has long had the equivalent of common law ethics rules," the justices said in an introductory statement. "The absence of a code, however, has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the Justices of this Court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules."

The code starts saying that a justice "should maintain and observe high standards of conduct in order to preserve the integrity and independence of the federal judiciary."

The document details how a justice should be fair, diligent and impartial. That includes not being involved in politics or making public comments on matters that will be discussed at any court.

The code of conduct allows the members of the court to participate in external activities, including receiving compensation and reimbursement of expenses, but with some limitations. It also discusses how justices should conduct their personal investments and the policy for receiving gifts.

The reported political activity of Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, has raised questions about ethics in the court. She allegedly supported efforts of former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results.

Independent news organization ProPublica reported earlier this year that Texan billionaire Harlan Crown paid for luxury trips of Justice Thomas. The New York Times also reported on other gifts received by the justice.

After the reports, justices Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett publicly said they supported the adoption of a code of ethics.