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Federal Judges Are Buying Nearly As Much Stock As They're Selling

It appears that the bipartisan Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act (CETA), signed a year ago, isn’t compelling federal judges to sell off their conflict-inducing investments.

Fix the Court believes that federal judges and Supreme Court justices should not own individual stock but instead should invest in blended funded, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds and other such investments that are less likely to cause a statutory conflict and require recusal.

That view was crystallized in 2021 when the Wall Street Journal  found that 131 judges participated in 685 cases from 2010 to 2018 in which they had a financial stake in a party, which led to the passage of CETA, which groups like Project on Government Oversight, Free Law Project and FTC worked on with House and Senate sponsors.

CETA requires judicial officers to file a report each time they make a securities transaction greater than $1,000. These reports, along with judges’ and justices’ annual financial disclosures, are then posted online in a public database, which went online in Nov. 2022. It’s similar to the disclosures and stock transactions database that Congress has published for the last decade.

Based on FTC’s analysis, during the first six months the judiciary’s database was online, 106 Article III judges bought and sold stock and filed reports in the database. Of those, 90 sold stock, 71 bought stock and 55 both bought and sold stock.

It’s not the resounding selloff we were hoping for.

Our data does not include bankruptcy and magistrate judges but does include district and circuit judges (active and senior) and one Supreme Court justice (Roberts).

To view the data, click here.

We expect to update the data in June.

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