Julius Caesar divorced his wife after she was named in a scandal that caused him embarrassment. Even if his wife had been innocent of wrongdoing, she had put herself in a position to call her integrity into question. “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” he said. Good public officials will avoid behavior that gives the perception of impropriety.
In the spirit of ‘Caesar’s Wife,’ U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan refused to take lox and bagels from some of her old high school friends out of concern that accepting the gift might seem unethical. Some of Justice Kagen’s colleagues do not share her concern about ethical appearances.
After Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court, her home was sold to a leader of the Religious Liberty Initiative. The Institute has filed nine briefs with the Supreme Court since the purchase of Barrett’s home.
Justice Samuel Alito went on a fishing vacation as a guest of hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. Alito flew on a private plane and stayed at a lodge that charges over $1,000 a day. After the fishing trip, issues involving Paul Singer’s hedge fund came before the Supreme Court 10 times.
Justice Clarence Thomas has received various gifts from billionaire Harlan Crow. The Supreme Court declined to hear a case that could have negatively impacted Crow’s business interests.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh has not commented on how his significant credit card and country club debts were paid off.
Chief Justice John Roberts has refused a request to testify at a Senate hearing on Supreme Court ethics.
In public life, Caesar’s wife must not only be innocent but also appear innocent… Caesar, too, must keep himself above suspicion. How will history remember the Roberts Court?
Thanks, and a tip of the hat to https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/ for the image.