During oral argument in Salman v. U.S., an insider trading case argued today, Justice Stephen Breyer noted the importance of the financial disclosure rules that he and his colleagues must follow and how family members of public officials are rightly prohibited from accepting gifts that could be seen as trying to influence the official him or herself.
Breyer asked rhetorically, as he often does:
Why do (complete) all the disclosure forms we have to fill out? […] You have to put [the income of] your minor children, your wife. And in giving gifts, you have to disclose your minor children, your wife. I mean, why are the statute books filled with instances where the public wants to know, not just how you might benefit, but how your family might benefit?
Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth issued this statement in response:
For the first time in memory, a Supreme Court justice acknowledged from the bench the value of the financial disclosure rules that members of the high court must follow.
Congress should take note of the endorsement and go one step further next year by ensuring the jurists also abide by the same ethics, travel and stock ownership rules that the rest of the federal government follows.