The Code of Conduct for United States Judges includes the ethical canons that apply to federal judges and provides guidance on their performance of official duties and engagement in a variety of outside activities.
This Code's Cannon Five clearly states that a judge should not "publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office."
In her comments about Donald Trump (in three different public statements) Justice Ginsburg has clearly violated the Code. It really doesn't matter whether or not Supreme Court justices must technically abide by the Code. They should follow its provisions nonetheless. After all, they are the highest jurists in the land. They actually sit in judgement of other judges. So, we must hold them to the very highest standards.
At the very least, Justice Ginsburg should be admonished.
Again, from the New York Times editorial:
“In this election cycle in particular, the potential of a new president to affect the balance of the court has taken on great importance, with the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, other justices are nearing an age when retirement would not be surprising. That makes it vital that the court remain outside the presidential process. And just imagine if this were 2000 and the resolution of the election depended on a Supreme Court decision. Could anyone now argue with a straight face that Justice Ginsburg’s only guide would be the law?”And The Washington Post has also spoken out, declaring:
“However valid her comments may have been, though, and however in keeping with her known political bent, they were still much, much better left unsaid by a member of the Supreme Court.”And the Wall Street Journal goes even further:
"Each of these verbal eruptions is a major breach of judicial decorum but taken together they raise larger issues. Under Section 28 US Code 455, “[a]ny justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” A judge is also expected to disqualify himself “[w]here he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.”Arthur D. Hellman, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law said, of Justice Gisnburg's comments: "This is nothing casual. The aim, I suppose, is to influence the election. ... If a lower-court judge had said those things, they would be subject to disciplinary proceeding."
"Justice Ginsburg talks as if the Court is a purely political body and seems oblivious to the damage she is doing. All of this raises questions about her judgment, her temperament, and her continuing capacity to serve as a judge. She should resign from the Court before she does the reputation of the judiciary more harm."
Any sensible person -- anyone who cares one whit about fairness, justice and simple propriety -- has got to be deeply concerned about Justice Ginsburg's comments.
And yet, we've heard nothing about this up to this point from the American Bar Association or the myriad of other state, national and local bar association, the majority of which follow the liberal line.
Maybe they will speak up at some point. We hope so, but we're not holding our breath.
Still, what if Justice Alito of Justice Thomas had called a presidential candidate a "faker" and said he would certainly have to resign from the Court and probably have to "move to New Zealand" if that person was elected? And those are some of the milder things Ginsburg said in her troika of interviews. She went much further than that.
What would have happened to Thomas or Alito? Well, we think you know the answer to that question.