Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has issued a stark warning about the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court, describing it as “captured and corrupted by money and extremism.” During a round table on Capitol Hill, the New York Democrat emphasized that the Court’s conduct is leading to a severe crisis of legitimacy that could destabilize American democracy.

Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks come in the wake of significant ethical controversies surrounding conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which removed the constitutional right to abortion and triggered widespread political backlash, the Court has been under intense scrutiny.


Ethical Concerns and Dark Money

Congressman Jamie Raskin joined Ocasio-Cortez, pointing out that the Supreme Court currently has “the lowest ethical standards.” Raskin, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, highlighted how dark money plays a pivotal role in shaping the Court’s conservative majority, a situation exacerbated by secretive spending in politics.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a vocal advocate for Supreme Court reform, also participated in the hearing. He condemned the influence of dark money on American democracy, stressing that it is the “rot” undermining the nation’s political system.


Scandals Involving Justices

Recent reports have revealed troubling details about the behavior of certain justices. Justice Clarence Thomas disclosed that he had taken luxury trips funded by conservative billionaire Harlan Crow, who also covered private school tuition for Thomas’s grandnephew. Similarly, ProPublica reported that Justice Samuel Alito accepted private jet travel and vacations from a billionaire with business before the Court.

These revelations have led to calls for stricter ethical standards for justices. Despite this, both Thomas and Alito have resisted recusal from cases where there might be conflicts of interest. Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist, has been notably involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, raising further ethical questions.


Legislative Responses

Democrats have proposed various reforms, including establishing an independent ethics office for the Supreme Court and setting term limits for justices. However, these reforms face significant obstacles without bipartisan support.

Ocasio-Cortez questioned the disparity in ethical standards between members of Congress and Supreme Court justices, noting that lawmakers are prohibited from accepting gifts valued over $50, a standard not applied to justices.

Public Confidence and the Future

Public confidence in the Supreme Court has plummeted to near historic lows, prompting a broader debate about the Court’s role and integrity. Ocasio-Cortez highlighted that the lack of a binding code of conduct for the Court is a major issue, allowing justices to act with impunity.

Raskin underscored the necessity of ethical reforms to maintain the Court’s integrity and public trust. Without such measures, he warned, the justices could continue to engage in ethically dubious activities without accountability.

As the debate continues, the future of the Supreme Court’s ethical standards and its impact on American democracy remain critical issues for lawmakers and the public alike.



The ethical controversies surrounding the US Supreme Court have sparked a significant debate about its legitimacy and the influence of money and extremism. As legislators like Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin push for reforms, the nation watches closely to see if these efforts will lead to substantial changes in the highest court’s ethical framework.