Warren, Jayapal demand answers on reported judicial ethics violations

Warren, Jayapal demand answers on reported judicial ethics violations

A pair of progressive Democratic lawmakers on Thursday demanded answers from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts following a Wall Street Journal article that found more than a hundred federal judges oversaw cases involving companies in which they held a financial stake.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Exporting gas means higher monthly energy bills for American families Senators turn up the heat on Amazon, data brokers during hearing MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalLawmakers call for investigation into proposed AT&T WarnerMedia, Discovery merger Democratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-Wash.) sent a letter to Roberts, who as chief justice also presides over the Judicial Conference of the United States, asking how the alleged misconduct is being addressed.

"These actions raise questions about the judgment and integrity of these individuals and will justifiably reduce public confidence in the justice system," the lawmakers wrote. "Likewise, they raise questions about whether you have done enough in your role as the presiding officer of the Judicial Conference of the United States to establish and enforce ethics rules and uphold the integrity of the federal judiciary.”

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The Supreme Court's public information office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Journal investigation published late last month said 131 judges appear to have violated federal law prohibiting them from hearing cases in which they have a financial interest in one of the parties.

Using data encompassing cases from 2010 to 2020, the newspaper reported that two-thirds of the decisions from those cases benefited the party in which the judge held stock.

Jayapal and Warren have introduced legislation to overhaul the judiciary's ethics requirements, including a ban on judges holding individual stocks. But in Thursday’s letter they pushed Roberts to take action now.

"While Congress should act swiftly to pass these reforms, a decisive response from the judiciary is urgent and necessary," the lawmakers wrote. "As the presiding officer of the Judicial Conference of the United States, you are responsible for the policies and administration of the federal courts."

They included a list of questions seeking details on how Roberts intends to respond to the findings and seeking a commitment that he and the other justices will recuse themselves in cases where they have a direct financial interest.

Jayapal and Warren asked Roberts to respond by Oct. 28.