Scholar explains why the US needs to 'take a long look in the mirror' on judicial reform

Scholar explains why the US needs to 'take a long look in the mirror' on judicial reform
Supreme Court 2022, Image via Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

A new op-ed is challenging the U.S. Supreme Court to hold justices to the same judicial reforms that other nations are held to.

Matthieu Chemin wrote the op-ed for The Scientific American where he began with an overview of the lavish gift controversy focused on Justice Clarence Thomas. Last month, ProPublica released a bombshell report that detailed Thomas' acceptance of opulent gifts from billionaire businessman Harlan Crow. Those gifts included lavish getaways, use of Crow's yachts and private jets, and much more.

"Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ gifts from a billionaire far surpass the level of bribes that for decades have sparked U.S. calls for judicial reforms overseas," Chemin wrote.

READ MORE: Chief justice doubles down in letter to Senate Dems day before hearing on SCOTUS ethics reform

He continued, "Applying the U.S.’s [United States'] blueprints for judicial reforms, which scholarship shows helps nations prosper and democratize, to its own high court could clean up its mess."

Valued at over $2 million, the gifts Thomas has received have sparked heated debates about the need for reforms. According to Chemin, "The monetary value of these undeclared gifts towers over bribes given to judges in other countries."

"These judicial reforms aim at improving the quality, speed and access of the court systems, and they usually contain anticorruption components with integrity training and monitoring of judges and court officials," he wrote.

Chemin also explained why reforms are necessary despite the costs incurred to implement them.

READ MORE: Ex-conservative judge issues blistering warning as he urges SCOTUS to adopt 'highest' ethical standards

He noted, "The premise of these measures is that the rule of law is an important pre-condition for prosperity and the fight against corruption."

He went on to explain the consequences of a lack of judicial reforms.

"Opacity and corruption have severe consequences," he wrote. "My work already shows that the lack of judicial reforms abroad, such as those advocated by the U.S., have negative consequences on the economy and corruption of the elites."

In conclusion, Chemin stressed the importance of judicial reforms. "On a more conceptual level, the fundamental purpose of an unbiased legal system is to level the playing field: the rules are the same for all, nobody is above the law, and everybody has the opportunity to flourish," he wrote.

He added, "When the legal system is biased towards wealthy individuals, the playing field tilts in their favor, and the incentives to innovate and grow vanish for the rest of the population. Inequality grows in a vicious circle towards more tyranny of the wealthiest. This is what is at stake here. The U.S. should take a long look in the mirror and implement the judicial reforms it has championed overseas at home on its high court."

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