Supreme Court adopts unenforceable "ethics" policy

Hoping to turn around growing public perception of certain members as corrupt, the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted an "ethics" policy that vaguely resembles the Code of Conduct applying to federal judges—but without any enforcement mechanisms. In a brief statement the court makes clear that it does not consider Clarence Thomas's endless parade of undisclosed trips and gifts as misconduct, but rather a misunderstanding that you are suffering from.

Most of the rules outlined in the code are not themselves new, the statement said, but the lack of a published code "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, based on rules followed by lower court judges, appears to build on a statement the justicesreleased in April saying they "reaffirm and restate" their commitment to ethics principles — an announcement that failed to quell the criticism.

Among other things, the code requires justices to "uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary" and "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities."

Technically, there are methods of enforcement beyond those available to Congress, but it's declassé to discuss them in print.

It's fun watching broadcast news try to both-sides it. NBC News ran ominous his-n-her mugshots this morning of Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, who had staffers try to drum up sales of her book. We are in an age of monsters!