Justice Kennedy was one of a number of federal judges who “accepted luxurious trips and other benefits from West Publishing Co. during a period when they made decisions, on and off the bench, worth millions to the company.”
He’s in good company – seven justices in all have accepted travel provided by West over the last three decades: Kennedy and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Lewis Powell, Byron White and William Brennan.
The Supreme Court does not require justices to explain the reasons for their recusals, and it’s clear why this opaque practice must end. While we do not assume all of the justices to be acting improperly, there is no reason for them to hide behind this antiquated practice that leave the media and members of the public guessing if and when a justice has a potential conflict of interest.
Fix the Court is calling on Chief Justice Roberts to establish a formal recusal reporting procedure in which justices would submit the reason for their recusal to the court’s Public Information Office, which would then post the reason on the court’s website. And we’re calling on the court to make it easier for attorneys and members of the public to file a request for recusal in any case.