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44 Third Branch 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/thirdbran44 and id is 1 raw text is: Newsletter of the Federal Courts              Vol. 44 m Number 1 m Special Issue a January 2012
2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

n 1920, American baseball fans were jolted by allegations that
Chicago White Sox players had participated in a scheme to
fix the outcome of the 1919 World Series. The team owners
responded to the infamous Black Sox Scandal by selecting
a federal districtjudge, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, to serve as
Commissioner of Baseball and restore confidence in the sport.
The public welcomed the selection of a prominent federal judge
to purge corruption from baseball. ButJudge Landis's appointment
led to another controversy: Could a federal judge remain on the
bench while serving as Baseball Commissioner? That controversy
brought to the fore a still broader question: Where do federal
judges look for guidance in resolving ethics issues?
Since 1789, every federal judge has taken the same solemn
oath to administerjustice without respect to persons, to do equal
right to the poor and to the rich, and to faithfully and impartially
discharge and perform the duties ofjudicial office. But for the first
130 years of the Nation's existence, federal judges had no formal
source for guidance on the broad array of ethical issues that might
arise in the course ofjudicial service.judge Landis resolved his
situation by resigning his judicial commission in 1922 to focus all
his efforts on the national past-time. The controversy, however,
prompted organized efforts to develop more guidance for judges.
That same year, the American Bar Association asked the Nation's
new Chief Justice, former President William Howard Taft, to chair a
Commission on judicial Ethics.
Within two years, ChiefJustice Taft's commission produced
the ABA's 1924 Canons ofiudicial Ethics. The 1924 Canons were
advisory. As ChiefJustice Taft explained, their 34 general principles
served as a guide and reminder that federal and state judges could
consult in discharging their duties. Since that time, theJudicial
Conference of the United States-the policy-making body for the
lower federal courts-has adopted and regularly updated its own
Code ofjudicial Conduct to provide guidance to federal judges. The
1924 Canons provided the foundation for that ongoing undertaking.
Some observers have recently questioned whether theJudicial
Conference's Code of Conduct for United States Judges should
apply to the Supreme Court. I would like to use my annual report
this year to address that issue, as well as some other related issues

that have recently drawn
public attention. The space
constraints of the annual
report prevent me from
setting out a detailed disser-
tation on judicial ethics.
And my judicial responsi-
bilities preclude me from
commenting on any ongoing.
debates about particular
issues or the constitutionality
of any enacted legislation or
pending proposals. But I can
provide some clarification
on how the justices address John G. Robertsjr.
ethical issues and dispel some
ethial ssue an disel ome Chief justice of the United States
common misconceptions.
A. The Code of Conduct for United States Judges
What is now known as the Judicial Conference of the United States
was created by Congress in 1922 to provide national guidance to the
lower federal courts. The ChiefJustice chairs the Judicial Conference,
which includes the chiefjudge of each of the 13 federal judicial
circuits and a district judge from each circuit. Thejudicial Conference
conducts much of its work through 25 committees, including
the Committee on Codes of Conduct. As noted, that committee
has promulgated and periodically revises the Code of Conduct
for United States judges. It also provides advice, on a formal and
informal basis, to judges and judicial employees on the meaning and
application of the Code's provisions.
The Code of Conduct, by its express terms, applies only to lower
federal court judges. That reflects a fundamental difference between
the Supreme Court and the other federal courts. Article Ill of the
Constitution creates only one court, the Supreme Court of the United
States, but it empowers Congress to establish additional lower federal
courts that the Framers knew the country would need. Congress
instituted theJudicial Conference for the benefit of the courts it had
created. Because theJudicial Conference is an instrument for the

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