Members of Congress from both parties turned a July 6 House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on “judicial efficiency” into a forum for critiquing the third branch’s lack of openness and accountability.
Fix the Court had reached out to top committee staff to discuss the extent to which Supreme Court justices follow less stringent rules from officials in the other branches on issues ranging from how they report stock transactions to how they handle privately-financed travel.
The result was a two-hour broadside against the high court from the committee room, as members engaged judicial officials and each other on a range of ideas for how to catch up the third branch with modern expectations of transparency. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) expressed concerns over disclosure disparities among the branches; Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) plead for news cameras to be allowed in the SCOTUS courtroom; and Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) suggested that a judicial inspector general be installed.
As Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said, “The judicial branch is the least well-known branch [and] has also historically lacked transparency. It is time, however, for the judicial branch to come out of the shadows.” Fix the Court hopes that this and future hearings will do just that.