Common Cause is urging every member of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote “yes” in support of the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act, HR 5720. The legislation will extend to federal judges, the same conflict of interest reporting requirements that are applied to Members of Congress under the STOCK Act. The letter, sent yesterday to every Member of the House, points to an extensive investigation by The Wall Street Journal that found that over an eight-year period more than 100 federal judges failed to recuse themselves in nearly 700 cases in which they had a financial stake. The letter also notes that Common Cause plans to key-vote this legislation in our Democracy Scorecard, which we send to our 1.5 million members.
“Americans deserve to know that they are getting a fair shake when they are in court. However, if we cannot know or see when judges might have conflicts of interest, then this gaping loophole in our federal legal system needs to be closed to ensure every American receives equal justice under the law,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. “Applying the same STOCK Act reporting requirements to the judicial branch that are currently applied to Congress is a commonsense transparency reform to boost public confidence in the impartiality of our courts.”
Judges are supposed to be impartial arbiters of the law, the letter notes, and those accused of crimes, those prosecuting crimes, juries, and the public deserve to know if judges have conflicts of interest when considering certain cases. For far too long, many federal judges have owned investments and traded stock involving cases they consider. To curb this practice, Common Cause is urging the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act, HR 5720, with all due haste.
To read the full letter, click here.