Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today joined senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and others to introduce the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act to require online publication of financial disclosure reports for federal judges and to mandate that federal judges submit periodic transaction reports for certain securities transactions. Cosponsors of the bill include John Kennedy (R-La.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“By making judicial financial disclosures more easily available, this bill will help increase transparency and reassure the American people that the federal judicial system remains unbiased and fair,” Grassley said.
“The STOCK Act rightly strengthened disclosure requirements and boosted transparency for elected officials, but federal judges were inexplicably carved out of these tougher rules. This legislation would subject federal judges to the same disclosure requirements of other federal officials so we can be sure litigants are protected from conflicts of interest and cases are decided fairly,” Cornyn said.
“A fundamental pillar of our justice system is the right to a fair and impartial trial. Litigants need confidence that they will receive an unbiased hearing free from outside influence and based only on the facts and the law. I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues that will strengthen financial disclosure requirements for federal judges and help bolster confidence in the justice system,” Coons said.
“Existing law already requires many federal officials to disclose certain securities transactions. As a matter of transparency and accountability, federal judges should do the same. The Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act would give the public, including litigants, access to this important information while protecting judges’ personal information and security,” Kennedy said.
“Life-tenured judges follow lower transparency standards than any other federal officials. This bipartisan bill will make sure the judiciary discloses as much about its stock transactions as the elected branches of government. That’s an important safeguard,” Whitehouse said.
“Texans and the American people deserve accountability and ethical integrity from every branch of government. Our judges have a duty to avoid conflicts of interest in their courtrooms and even the appearance of improprieties that could call into question their impartiality. Recent reporting that federal judges across the country have failed to recuse themselves from cases in which they have a financial interest is extremely concerning and undermines faith in our judicial system. That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill that will increase accountability by requiring federal judges to make necessary financial disclosures,” Cruz said.
“Our judicial officials should be bound by the same financial disclosure requirements that our elected officials are. This level of increased transparency will hold officials accountable and ensure that litigants are not caught in a conflict of interest. Today’s introduction of the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act brings us one step closer to guaranteeing equal justice under the law,” Durbin said.
“I’m working with my colleagues to strengthen transparency rules to ensure all Americans receive fair and impartial treatment in court without fear of any conflict of interest,” Ossoff said.