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Happy Financial Disclosure Day! (P.S. Justices Should Sell Their Stocks)

Four Supreme Court opinions were released this morning. There was nothing earth-shattering, but one was the opinion in BP, et al., v. Baltimore, on whether certain climate change lawsuits can proceed in federal or state court.

Justice Alito was recused because he’s refused to sell his shares in ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66, two of the oil companies in the “et al.” (See the justices’ stock list here.)

“Federal judges should not own individual stocks” is something that countless legal ethicists — and more than one federal judge — have told us over the years, and yet, this issue persists.

It’s a bit ironic that the opinion came out today, since today is the annual financial disclosure due date for about 3,000 judiciary employees — active judges, senior judges and other high-level third branch employees.

We won’t know for certain for another 13 months if Alito owned ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 at the point in time when this case was decided, as the 2021 disclosures are scheduled to come out mid-June 2022.

That’s weird. But that’s also fixable.

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