Here’s why Supreme Court justices are allowed to trade stocks
The U.S. Supreme Court is in the spotlight following its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow the concealed carry of a firearm in New York. The rulings come at a time when more pundits are calling for reforms to the nation’s highest court.
“The Supreme Court is in dire need of reform,” said University of Chicago law professor Ryan D. Doerfler. “In its current form, it is an incredibly destructive and anti-democratic institution.”
The US House Judiciary Committee recently introduced a bill that would issue a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices.
Currently, Supreme Court justices are the only federal judges who are exempt from the Code of Conduct, which is designed to maintain the integrity and independence of the judicial branch of government.
“If you’re a congressman or a member of the executive branch, you have certain rules of the road about what it means to be a public servant,” according to Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court. “And the Supreme Court is exempt from almost all of them on gifts, personal hospitality, travel and disclosure.”
Judges are also authorized to trade in shares of private companies, which could create a conflict of interest. Judge Stephen Breyer came under fire in 2015 after failing to recuse himself in a case despite his wife owning shares in the company involved.
According to the latest financial disclosure reports, Breyer and Judge John Roberts own stock in individual companies such as Sysco, Raytheon and Texas Instruments.
The judges did not respond when asked to comment.
“It’s a real puzzle why they would choose to participate in the market in a way that might get them in trouble and might make the court less powerful for major business decisions,” Roth said.
However, not all court watchers are calling for drastic reforms.
“We are seeing more and more attacks on the outright legitimacy of the court, arguing that judges are not legitimate because they are not achieving the results some people want,” said researcher Adam White. principal at the American Enterprise Institute. He continued: “I think the criticism of the court currently says at least as much, perhaps more about the critics than the court itself.”
Watch the video above to learn more about other reforms being considered for the Supreme Court.