In response to reports that 131 federal judges may have violated the law by presiding over cases in which they had a financial interest, Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-50), and Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-02) joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) in co-leading the bipartisan Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act. The legislation would require federal judges to release regular financial disclosures, just like members of Congress, thereby making information about potential conflicts of interest more transparent and building greater trust in the justice system.
“Federal Judges are increasingly facing cases that involve corporate and other parties that may impact the financial investments and overall wealth of those judges and create conflicts of interest. Trust in our judicial system demands clear impartiality of the judges. In order to improve that trust, judges should be required to disclose their financial interests to the American public, meaning at least adhering to the same standard as currently applied to members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate,” said Rep. Chip Roy. “ I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan effort with my colleagues from both chambers of Congress.”
The Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act would require financial disclosure reports be made publicly available online, and require federal judges to submit periodic transaction reports of securities transactions in line with other federal officials under the STOCK Act. The Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act would amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to:
Require the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to create a searchable online database of judicial financial disclosure forms and post those forms within 90 days of being filed, and;
Subject judges to the STOCK Act’s requirement of filing periodic transaction reports within 45 days of securities transactions over $1,000.
Importantly, the bill also preserves the existing ability of judges to request redactions of personal information on financial disclosure reports due to a security concern.