Two years after disclosures went from paper-only to thumb drives, groups ask Financial Disclosure Committee to take the next step in improving judicial transparency
Ahead of next month’s semi-annual Judicial Conference meeting, Fix the Court and the Free Law Project today asked the chair of the Conference’s Committee on Financial Disclosure to consider a request to upload the annual disclosure reports of Article III judges to the website of the Administrative Office, as opposed to releasing them by paper or on thumb drives, as the Committee typically does.
As of today, both FTC and FLP have requested the 2018 disclosure reports from all U.S. Supreme Court justices, circuit court judges and district court judges. “Once received,” FTC’s Gabe Roth and FLP’s Mike Lissner write in their letter, “we would be more than happy to upload them all to our websites; however, since we believe in the importance of primary sources – and we would not want detractors to accuse us of altering documents – we think it would be preferable for all reports to be uploaded to a judiciary website, such as uscourts.gov.”
Roth and Lissner point out that right now, the U.S. Courts website already includes links that detail the judiciary’s finances – from information about privately funded seminars attended by federal judges to details about judiciary-sponsored conferences costing more than $100,000.
Since 1979, federal judges – including Supreme Court justices – have been required each year to list various aspects of their personal finances in a report that members of the public are permitted to request.
Information on these reports includes the names of nonprofit boards they sit, their spouses’ income, their book royalties and other gifts, their personal debts, their investment income and who has reimbursed them throughout the year for travel, food and lodging.