Opinion | The Supreme Court’s New Ethics Code: ‘Worthless’

To the Editor:

Re “Under Scrutiny, Justices Adopt an Ethics Code” (front page, Nov. 14):

In response to a public outcry, the Supreme Court has published a code of ethics. Unfortunately, this code presumably only looks forward rather than backward, and it doesn’t matter anyway, since there is no provision for investigation, and no prescription for penalties. No wonder Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas were willing to sign on.

Several talking heads on the various news channels have given credit to the court for at least a good first step. The reality, however, is that there will not be any further steps, at least while Justices Alito and Thomas remain on the bench.

It’s as if the members of the court were saying to America: You forced us to adopt a code of ethics; here it is. We all know it’s worthless, but now just leave us alone.

Lawrence Levy
Los Angeles

To the Editor:

In the commentary at the end of the Supreme Court’s new ethics code, it states about recusal: “Because of the broad scope of the cases that come before the Supreme Court and the nationwide impact of its decisions, this provision should be construed narrowly.”

I would argue that for those very reasons recusal should be used liberally. In fact, given the ethical abuses and conflicts of interest of several of the sitting justices, not just Justice Clarence Thomas, and the scope of the cases and their impact, a much more strict and enforceable ethics code would be far better.

No justice should be allowed to accept gifts or remuneration from anyone or any corporation, and no conference junkets or other boondoggles should be allowed. There should be no source of outside income for any of the justices from anyone.

The decisions by the court affect not only the parties involved, but also in many cases the lives of all citizens and residents. The justices should not be getting any benefit from any source other than the salary they are paid. If one aspires to be on the court in order to get rich or live a high lifestyle, then that person has no business being a justice.

William F. Bauer
Madison, Wis.

To the Editor:

For reasons beyond my understanding, this group of nine people who, in the course of their professions, parse and determine the exact intention of words, opted not to require adherence to their new ethics code, but rather to suggest that they should adhere to it.

I know I should pay my taxes. But if no one is going to check on whether I do or not, I might just decide, when I really, really need a vacation, that I’ll skip my taxes that year and use those funds instead to charter a private jet.

Shameful. Maybe they thought nobody would notice.

Cynthia Mowery
University Park, Md.

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Asks for Federal Election Trial to Be Televised” (news article, Nov. 12):

No, no, a thousand times no.

We do not need this public circus.

Paul Blank
Morristown, N.J.

To the Editor:

Good arguments can be made for and against televising any of Donald Trump’s coming criminal trials in a federal court, where televising them is prohibited.

To reduce the likelihood that a televised trial will turn into a circus, two alternatives should be considered. One is to permit broadcasting sound only; the other is to release a simultaneous transcript of the proceedings.

Changing the current rule presents problems, with time growing short. A compromise may offer the best solution.

David M. Dorsen
The writer was assistant chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973-74.

To the Editor:

Re “New York Is Set to Make Regents Exams Optional for Graduation” (news article, Nov. 14):

When any test is made mandatory for graduation, it usually reaches for the lowest common denominator. If scores on such tests are “influenced by a student’s income, cultural differences or other obstacles,” the solution is not to eliminate such tests, but to put resources into those schools where students need the help.

The tests as they are currently constructed are a weak measure of a student’s knowledge, but the solution of making such tests optional is misguided. If anything, the test standards should be raised! Eliminating test requirements is easy and lazy; giving resources to those in need requires a degree of work, money and patience.

Larry Hoffner
New York
The writer is a retired public high school teacher.

To the Editor:

Eliminating mandatory New York State Regents exams, a traditional standard-bearer of academic achievement, is not the answer to improving students’ preparation for career and employment readiness.

Rather, why not invest in and improve teacher preparation so that meeting children’s needs can be assessed and remediated at the appropriate level to build learners’ required knowledge and skills for success?

Well-prepared teachers are the key ingredient for student achievement, and the test results are needed as the markers for accomplishing the learning objectives.

Frances R. Curcio
Staten Island
The writer is professor emerita of secondary mathematics education at Queens College, CUNY.

To the Editor:

Re “German Plan Would Drop Frank’s Name From Day Care Center” (news article, Nov. 9):

Removing Anne Frank’s name from the day care center in Tangerhütte, Germany, because it’s not “child friendly” or because “parents with a migrant background would often not know what to make of the name” is even more of a reason to keep the name.

Removing Anne Frank’s name would be tantamount to erasing history. Having the school named after Anne Frank allows children and immigrants to learn who she was and serve as a reminder of the atrocities that occurred in Europe during World War II.

To the Editor:

Re “‘Cute,’ ‘Fun’ and Equal to 590 Cigarettes” (Thursday Styles, Nov. 9):

Once again we’re seeing what happens when we underinvest in creating and enforcing effective regulations to curb the marketing of addictive products to young people.

The tobacco industry’s substantial lobbying efforts have resulted in a regulatory environment riddled with holes and inadequate for reining in the flow of vaping products now available in a broad array of colors and flavors, loaded with high-dose nicotine, and unabashedly marketed to kids.

We can and should continue to urge schools and communities to implement effective prevention strategies and help parents talk with their kids early and often about the risks of vaping, but we can’t expect them to shoulder this responsibility on their own.

Their best intentions and efforts are simply no match for the ever more enticing landscape of accessible and normalized addictive products.

Linda Richter
New York
The writer is senior vice president, prevention research and analysis, at Partnership to End Addiction.