Bill Requiring Online Publication Of Judges’ Financial Disclosures Heads To Biden

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that would toughen financial disclosure requirements for federal judges and make the reports available in a searchable database available to the public.

The measure, the Courthouse Ethics Transparency Act, heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, reports the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Senate had passed the bill in February.

The bill requires federal judges to report stock trades of more than $1,000 within 45 days. That puts judges on a similar footing as lawmakers, according to Reuters. U.S. Supreme Court justices would have to abide by the requirements, along with federal appellate, district court, bankruptcy and magistrate judges.

Currently, judges have to file annual financial disclosure reports. But requests for that information are sent to judges who decide whether redactions are needed. That can create long delays in providing the information.

“One of the bedrocks of American democracy is our independent judiciary, and it is imperative that federal judges are held to the same standard of transparency as other federal officials under the STOCK Act,” said Sen. John Cornyn, one of the sponsors of the bill. “This legislation will help bring potential conflicts of interest to light and bolster public trust in our judicial system, and I’m glad it is on its way to the President’s desk.”

A White House spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that he hadn’t discussed the bill with Biden. But the president “has always been full-throated about furthering ethics and transparency in government and restoring trust in institutions, and this kind of policy is aligned with those goals,” the spokesman said.

The bill follows an investigation by the Wall Street Journal that found 131 that federal judges oversaw 685 court cases in the last decade involving companies in which they or their families owned stock.

 

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