The Commission's authority derives from Article 6, Section 22, of the Constitution of the State of New York, which went into effect in April 1978 after overwhelming voter approval in the November 1977 election.

The enabling legislation associated with the Constitution's creation of the Commission is Article 2-A, Sections 40-48, of the Judiciary Law.

The Commission has promulgated Operating Procedures and Rules, which are published at 22 NYCRR Part 7000 and 7001.

The Commission has also published a Policy Manual, as a supplement to its operating procedures and rules.

The Chief Administrator of the Courts, with the approval of the Court of Appeals, promulgates Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, which are incumbent upon all judges of the New York State Unified Court System.  Violations of those Rules may result in disciplinary action by the Commission.

In addition to the ethics mandates applicable to the Commission in the Public Officers Law, the Commission has adopted a Code of Ethics for its members.