Hot Topic Program: Politics, Ethics, and the Supreme Court: The Present and Future of Supreme Court Recusal:
Supreme Court ethics and recusal standards—the criteria and procedures by which a justice withdraws from participating in a specific case—are fundamental to preserving the role of the Court as the final judicial arbiter in a society governed by the rule of law. The existing law, policy, and practice of Supreme Court recusal, however, is woefully incomplete and opaque, and raises unresolved questions about judicial ethics, the constitutional separation of powers, and the unique role of the Court in our judicial system. In the last year, debates over these questions have resulted in public calls for justices to recuse themselves from future cases (most notably the Court’s pending review of the Affordable Care Act), congressional testimony about recusal from sitting Supreme Court justices, and proposed federal legislation seeking to dramatically change the standards governing Supreme Court recusal. All of these events have ramifications for the Court’s integrity and for the public perception of its legitimacy.
This panel will look at the renewed controversy over Supreme Court recusal and address questions about how best to use the law of recusal to promote public confidence and integrity in the Court, as well as the legislative and constitutional issues surrounding the justices’ recusal decisions.