U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy is drafting a bill that he says would bring greater transparency to the Supreme Court by requiring justices to state why they have recused themselves from a case.
The measure would also apply the same code of conduct that applies to all federal judges to the Supreme Court justices.
Murphy says the legislation will end conflicts of interest at the nation's highest court. The Democrat from Connecticut's 5th District said he was motivated by reports that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia attended a conference with the Koch brothers, wealthy libertarian businessmen, while a case that the brothers stood to benefit from was before the court.
That case, Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, overturned longstanding campaign finance restrictions and loosened the rules on political contributions by businesses and labor unions.
The bill would apply the Judicial Conference's Code of Conduct, which applies to all other federal judges, to Supreme Court justices. It would also require justices to disclose their reasoning when they withdraw from a case due to a conflict of interest.
And it would require the court to develop a process so that parties to a case pending before the court to request a ruling on whether a justice has a conflict.
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