House Republican pushes medical examinations for Supreme Court justices

House Republican pushes medical examinations for Supreme Court justices
© Greg Nash

A House Republican is pushing a batch of reforms for the Supreme Court that would require justices to undergo periodic medical examinations.

Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaProposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Bipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation MORE (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, introduced a bill on Tuesday that aims to make the federal courts more transparent.

Under Issa's Judiciary Reforms, Organization and Operational Modernization, or Room Act, federal justices and judges age 70 and younger would be required to undergo a medical evaluation every five years. Those older than 70 would have to be examined every two years, and those 81 and older would have to go every year.


On the Supreme Court, three of the eight sitting justices are 70 years of age or older. Justice Clarence Thomas is 70, Justice Stephen Breyer is 80 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85. 

The legislation also takes steps toward increasing access to court proceedings. It would require the Supreme Court to release same-day audio of its arguments in the first year after the bill is enacted and then live stream audio of its arguments after two years. 

Federal appeals courts, meanwhile, would be required to stream video of proceedings in real time "to the extent practicable."

Fix the Court, a group working to make the courts more transparent, said Issa’s proposal would help the public better understand how the courts work at a time when the nation’s attention is focused on the judiciary with new interest.

"As Rep. Issa's bill remind us, every federal appeals court has same-day audio, and every federal judge abides by an ethics code, so there's no reason the high court should remain exempt, and this bill would correct that quirk,” the group’s Executive Director Gabe Roth said in a statement.

Under Issa’s proposal, the justices would also have to give a timely, public notice and explanation for recusals and follow a code of conduct.

The bill also gives the president the power to appoint more than 50 additional judges to district courts across the country, including seven judges to the federal District Court for the Central District of California.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up the bill on Thursday, along with another piece of legislation introduced by Issa that adds five more judges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and breaks it into four divisions -- Northern, Middle, Southern and Circuit.

Updated at 6:41 p.m.