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How About Asking Judicial Nominees Additional Questions on Ethics?

Recently Fix the Court sent a letter to his Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein about adding a few ethics-related questions to the questionnaire that all nominees fill out.

Right now, there are just two of them (Q14 on recusals and Q24 conflicts of interest), and on the latter, nominees for all levels of the judiciary – including SCOTUS – are brazenly just copying and pasting their predecessors’ answers, which doesn’t help anyone.

The questions FTC proposes – on social media use, the influence of outside groups, individual stock ownership and how to educate the public about the judiciary – take into account modern exigencies and attitudes and, we believe, would help citizens maintain faith in the third branch. Here they are:

  1. 1. As of 2018, all U.S. courts of appeals release argument audio online within 24 hours, and three circuits have permitted live audio streaming. Do you view same-day and live audio more as distractions or as tools for educating the public about the judiciary’s work?

  2. 2. Though judges and justices are required to recuse themselves from cases and petitions in which their investments are a named party, most federal judges do not own individual stocks, instead choosing to invest in the type of blended funds and retirement accounts that are unlikely to induce recusals. What are views on holding individuals stock, and if you do own individual stock, would you consider placing your securities into a blind trust for the duration of your judicial service?

  3. 3. As you likely know, several outside groups are supporting your confirmation, and others are opposing it. To the extent that you are aware, are any of your current or former colleagues, family or close friends involved in funding these efforts, and if so, will you recuse yourself from any cases that reach your court involving these groups and their funders should you be confirmed?

  4. 4. Please provide a list of all your social media handles – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and a list of websites on which you have submitted blog posts.

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