Congressional Democrats Reintroduce Bill Overhauling Judicial Ethics Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 8, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) reintroduced S. 1908, the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, legislation that aims to overhaul the nation’s judicial ethics laws. 

The bill would increase transparency within federal courts by mandating the livestreaming of court proceedings, restricting the sealing of federal judges’ public health and safety records and more. The bill also imposes a code of conduct on the U.S. Supreme Court (the only federal court not currently subject to an ethics code), implements multiple new mechanisms to hold Supreme Court justices accountable and overhauls the judicial recusal process. 

Federal judges would also be banned from owning individual stock and other assets that could result in conflicts of interest, and the bill would increase restrictions on judicial gifts and privately funded travel. 

“By holding the Supreme Court to a binding code of conduct and requiring all federal judges to disclose conflicts of interest, the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act would strengthen mechanisms for judicial accountability and help root out conflicts of interest in our judicial system,” Warren said in a press release.

Public polling has shown declining approval of the Supreme Court since the start of the year amidst repeated controversies surrounding transparency and ethics, including multiple ProPublica reports detailing undisclosed gifts from Republican billionaire Harlan Crow to Justice Clarence Thomas and his family, spurring calls for change at the nation’s highest court.

Read S. 1908 here.

Track the status of S. 1908 here.