Groups want U.S. SC justices to post annual financial disclosure forms

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 26, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A coalition of advocacy groups want U.S. Supreme Court justices to make information about their personal finances more available and accessible to the public.

Common Cause and seven other groups sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts Tuesday.

In their single-page letter, the groups contend the justices should follow the lead of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of Congress in posting their annual financial disclosure forms online as soon as the forms are filed each year -- typically in May.

"This policy change will make it much easier for interested citizens to access the Justices' financial information, promoting public confidence in the federal government in general, and in the Supreme Court in particular," they wrote.

"As the highest court in the nation, the Supreme Court would also serve as a powerful model of transparency and openness for the rest of the judiciary -- both state and federal."

Currently, interested citizens must either request the justices' financial disclosure forms individually or wait to access them on other websites.

The forms are not posted on the court's website or any other government website.

"We strongly urge the Court to increase its overall transparency by posting the Justices' financial disclosure forms on its website as soon as they become available each year, beginning with those filed in 2013," the groups wrote.

Federal lawmakers, including Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both D-Conn., and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., have indicated they're preparing to introduce legislation that would hold members of the Supreme Court to the same ethical standards imposed on the rest of the federal judiciary.

In addition to Common Cause, the letter to Roberts was signed by: the Alliance for Justice, the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Center for Public Integrity, Justice at Stake, OpenTheGovernment.org, and the Society of American Archivists.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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