All nine justices step aside, or “recuse,” from cases and petitions from time to time due to conflicts of interest. Many of these are not preventable; for example, Justice Alito steps aside when his sister and or his son, both accomplished attorneys, is involved in a high court case, and Justice Breyer did the same when his federal judge brother was involved.

We’ve long advocated for the justices to publicize their reasons for recusal as a way to be more transparent about their work. It appears that a May 2023 policy change means they will do so moving forward. But even so, we’ll continue to publish periodic reports where we offer more detailed explanations.

There are other conflicts that can and should actively be minimized by the justices, such as ownership of stocks in individual companies. After all, when a justice steps aside from a case due to any conflict, there’s the potential for a 4-4 tie, which means everyone’s time is wasted.

We believe there’s no reason for the justices to own common stock in companies that may easily find themselves before the Court. To fix this, the justices should be required to either sell their individual stocks or only hold bonds, mutual funds and index funds, which would give the justices the ability to keep a foothold in the market through a wide variety of instruments.

If they and their colleagues on lower courts insist on owning individual stocks, we believe that at the very least their stock sales and purchases should be posted online for the public to see within a few weeks of a transaction, which, thanks to a May 2022 law signed by President Biden, is finally required of them — a decade after it was required of members of Congress and top executive branch officials.

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