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Hirono Joins Colleagues in Introducing Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, & Transparency Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined six of her Senate colleagues in introducing a new version of the Twenty-First Century Court Act to promote accountability and increase transparency in the federal courts. The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act was marked up in the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, teeing it up for a vote in the full House in the days ahead.

“Americans across the country are questioning the Supreme Court’s independence now more than ever before,” said Senator Hirono.  “It is clear why—the Court lacks accountability and transparency.  Unlike many federal officials, the Justices are not subject to any code of conduct and they are not required to file financial disclosures.  This bill addresses these shortcomings to support and guide the Justices as they navigate the tough ethical questions they face for generations to come.”

In addition to Senator Hirono, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are also co-leading this legislation.

The new legislation:

Code of Conduct

  • Requires the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct within 180 days, or else Congress imposes the lower court code of conduct on the Court;


  • Creates new recusal requirements governing gifts, income, or reimbursements given to judges;
  • Creates new recusal requirements governing a party’s lobbying or spending money to campaign for a judge’s confirmation;
  • Ensures that requests for a judge to recuse are reviewed by a panel of randomly selected, impartial judges, or by the rest of the justices at the Supreme Court;
  • Requires written notification and explanations of recusal decisions;
  • Requires the judiciary to develop rules explaining when a judge’s connection to an amicus curiae brief might require recusal;
  • Requires the Federal Judicial Center to study and report to Congress every two years on the extent to which the judiciary is complying with recusal requirements;

Financial Disclosure

  • Requires the Supreme Court to adopt rules requiring disclosure rules for gifts, travel, and income received by justices and law clerks that are at least as rigorous as the House and Senate disclosure rules;
  • Requires parties and amici curiae before the Supreme Court to disclose any gifts, travel, or reimbursements they’ve given to a justice; and
  • Requires greater disclosure of amicus curiae funding.

The full text of the bill is available here.