During the March 7 House appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Supreme Court’s annual budget, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona (right) asked the justices point-blank about why they don’t have their reports posted online like members of Congress do.
The text of the exchange with Justice Alito is below, and a video is here.
Rep. Kirkpatrick: My question involves financial disclosure. Supreme Court justices, like all federal judges, file an annual financial disclosure report each May. But unlike members of Congress, these reports are not posted online.
Would you support a change in policy to online disclosures?
Justice Alito: As a practical matter, they are available online almost as soon as they are released to the public. There are private groups that request all of the financial disclosure forms of the justices, as soon as that is possible. And as soon as they obtain them, they put them online, so as a practical matter, they are already available online, and anybody can see any of our financial disclosure forms. We follow the procedure that’s set out in the Ethics and Government Act, and in the implementing regulations of the Judicial Conference on this matter, and we have not gone further.
But that is certainly something that we could consider, if there is a real issue, because they are documents that are available to the, supposed to be available to the public.
Justice Alito is correct that Fix the Court posts the justices’ disclosures online once we get them.
But sometimes they are delayed or incomplete, or sometimes the justices or other federal judges ask for an extension or two, and we and the rest of the public don’t know when to expect them.
Placing the disclosure reports online in one place – post redactions, of course, since certain ones are allowed – would help solve these issues.