My piece is up on Slate today. Here are the opening paragraphs:
Supreme Court justices are popular figures on the banquet circuit, but they come with a serious drawback. Canon 4C of the Code of Conduct for United States judges provides that a judge may not be a speaker or the guest of honor at “fund-raising” events. Although the Supreme Court has never formally adopted the code, which applies only to judges on the lower federal courts, Chief Justice Roberts has reported that the justices will look to it as “a uniform source for guidance” on ethical matters. Consequently, the justices refrain from speaking at money-making events, even for their favorite nonprofits.
The rule against fundraising is an important principle in judicial ethics, dating back to at least 1924, when an American Bar Association Committee, chaired by then Chief Justice William Taft, promulgated the first Canons of Judicial Ethics. The canons provided that a judge should not use “the power or prestige of his office” to solicit charitable donations, lest he (the judges were all men in 1924) give the appearance of either coercing contributions or encouraging others to curry favor. Similar provisions have been included in successive iterations of what is now called the Code of Judicial Conduct, including the version embraced by the Judicial Conference of the United States. It is that rule that seems to have been disregarded when the Claremont Institute recently honored Justice Samuel Alito.
You can read the article here.