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Supreme Court ethics remain at center stage after hard-right rulings

Much of the public sees the Supreme Court as political, not impartial, even as the court’s defenders say its critics simply oppose the conservative majority

The Supreme Court term that ended this week played out on a split screen: The justices issued blockbuster rulings that pushed the law sharply to the right, while outside the court some justices were buffeted by new ethics allegations that stoked questions from critics about their impartiality.

The dynamics may not seem related, but legal experts say they have mutually reinforced doubts among a large swath of the country over whether the nation’s highest court can be a neutral interpreter of the law.

“They’ve got a potential legitimacy problem,” said Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor and expert on judicial ethics. “The traditional notion that we will accept the results of the court whether we agree with it or not … is decreasingly the case. A lot of the ethics problems the court confronts fuel the perception that it is an organization more political than legal.”


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