In Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said of his bill:
“There is absolutely no reason why Supreme Court Justices shouldn’t be subject to the same code of conduct as all other federal judges. The American people deserve to know that our highest court is held to the highest ethical standards.”
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the sponsor of the House version of this legislation noted in a commentary piece for Roll Call why she believes a code of ethics is necessary:
"This code would disallow participation in political and fundraising activities such as the invitation-only political retreat put on by the Koch brothers that was attended by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, where the explicit goal was to “change the balance of power in Congress,” or the $25,000-a-plate fundraising dinner for the conservative American Spectator magazine attended by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr."
Of Note: As of April 2015, over 130,000 people signed a petition asking Chief Justice John Roberts to adopt a code of conduct for the Supreme Court. For those who think this bill is a waste of time, the argument is two-fold. The first is that there is no concrete way to hold justices to a code of ethics that they swear to — not under current law, and not in this bill. The other is that the Supreme Court is fundamentally different from lower courts — exempting the high court from a code of conduct. The latter is a position Chief Justice Roberts took in a one page letter to Democratic members of Congress in 2012 noting that justices already follow the code and Congress trying to force the judicial branch to do anything raises separation-of-powers issues.