A Primer on Regulating Federal Judicial Ethics

This Article first summarizes the agencies of the federal judiciary involved in ethics regulation. Then, it describes mechanisms and policies (constitutional, statutory, and administrative) designed to deter or discourage judicial misconduct and performance-degrading disability, including but not limited to conflict-of-interest statutes and the (nonstatutory) Code of Conduct for United States Judges and controversies over its application (including whether it should apply to Supreme Court Justices in the same way it does to other federal judges). The Article next reviews constitutional, statutory, and informal methods of dealing with allegations of judicial misconduct and disability (in particular the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act). Finally, the Article briefly suggests some additional questions about the regulation machinery and steps the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, might take to enhance the regulation of federal judicial ethics.