Senators Ask US Marshals for ‘All Documents’ Related to Supreme Court Justices’ Trips
Two senators have asked the U.S. Marshals Service for information on where U.S. Supreme Court justices might have traveled, saying that it would improve transparency.
“The justices of our highest court are subject to the lowest standards of transparency of any senior officials across the federal government,” wrote Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) in a letter dated June 4, which was made public on Tuesday, according to reports. They asked the Marshals Service for “all documents” related to trips taken by justices over the past decade.
The U.S. Marshals Service can be requested to provide security for justices for domestic travel outside of Washington. Normally, the Supreme Court Police handles their protection.
The documents, according to Kennedy and Whitehouse, will “help us assess how disclosures by members of the Court accord with the judicial branch’s disclosure standards, and to improve the consistency of disclosure standards across the three branches.”
Whitehouse is the chair of Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, while Kennedy is the ranking Republican on the panel.
The senators noted that Congress “is currently reevaluating financial disclosure standards for the receipt of gifts, travel, and other emoluments” regarding senior federal government officials. Their letter was also sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, whose agency oversees the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington.
Over the years, nongovernmental groups have sought travel records and other information from the Supreme Court, namely after the late Justice Antonin Scalia died at a Texas ranch in 2016. The ranch was owned by an attorney who had past business with the high court.
In February, Whitehouse and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Supreme Court Justice John Roberts calling on the high court “to bring judicial financial disclosure requirements in line with other branches of government,” according to a news release.
“Following passage of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989,” the release noted, “Congress and the executive branch implemented strong disclosure requirements for officials’ outside income, gifts, and reimbursements.”
The release further noted that the “judiciary, for its part, has adopted significantly less stringent guidelines, and has failed to make information on judicial branch disclosures readily available to the public.”
A spokesperson for Whitehouse told RollCall that Roberts has not responded to their letter.
About a decade ago, Roberts asserted that Congress doesn’t have the constitutional authority to impose an ethics code on the Supreme Court. The court, he said, has “no reason to adopt the Code of Conduct as its definitive source of ethical guidance.” It came after longtime Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and other Democrats sent a letter inquiring about a code of ethics.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Supreme Court for comment.