Press Release

Welch on U.S. Supreme Court Ethics Reform: “Disclosure is the Bare Minimum”

Jul 20, 2023

WASHINGTONSenator Peter Welch (D-VT) addressed the importance of United States Supreme Court ethics reform today in a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. The Committee  advanced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023, with unanimous Democratic support. The legislation requires the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct, establish a mechanism to investigate breaches of that code, recuse themselves when they have conflicts of interest in cases, and disclose gifts and income, among other provisions.

“I took a poll from Vermonters. I live on a dirt road, and I checked with some of my neighbors, and I asked a simple question: do you think that a Justice should be required, if they receive private airplane travel and yacht vacations, be required to disclose it? And they looked at me like that was the weirdest question they’d ever heard. And they didn’t answer it. They asked me a question. They said, ‘They can do that? Seriously?’ And I didn’t have an answer for that.

“The heart of the bill here is about disclosing something that the vast majority of the people we represent—all of us—think shouldn’t be done in the first place, so disclosure is the bare minimum.

“And that has to apply to anyone who is a judge, appointed by Clinton, appointed by Trump, appointed by Biden,” said Sen. Welch. “It has, in my view, very important implications for trying to restore credibility to a Supreme Court that isn’t held in high regard right now. And it’s been a big disappointment to me to see the failure of the Chief Justice to not act and essentially put this in the court of this Senate Judiciary Committee.”

For video from today’s hearing, please click here.