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May 18, 2023

Reps. Schiff, Johnson, and Spanberger Introduce Justice is BLIND Act to Limit Judges’ Stock Trading

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) introduced the Justice is Beneficial Limitation on Investments and Necessary Disclosure (BLIND) Act to limit federal judges – including Justices serving on the Supreme Court – as well as their spouses and dependent children from holding certain financial interests and stocks that may be a conflict of interest with cases they are deciding, unless the assets are in a blind trust.

“We desperately need to bring ethics back to the Supreme Court – and all our nation’s courts. That’s why I am introducing the Justice is BLIND Act, to help ensure that federal judges and justices are making decisions based on the law, and not because of any personal financial interest. Our bill will require that all financial investments and assets owned by judges do not influence their decisions, and are held in a blind trust,” said Rep. Adam Schiff.

“We need to trust that judges are deciding cases based on the merits, rather than based on their pocketbooks,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts. “Judges already have a duty to recuse themselves from cases that could impact their pecuniary interests, but we have seen time and again that many fail to uphold that basic ethical obligation. That’s why we must remove all doubt by requiring federal judges, Supreme Court justices, and their families to place financial assets in a blind trust. It is the only way to ensure that justice will be served.”

“I’ve long made clear that public servants should be focused on serving the public, not serving their own stock portfolios,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger. “As I continue to lead the charge alongside Democrats and Republicans to ban congressional stock trading, I’m proud to introduce this separate effort to ban judges and justices from buying and selling individual stocks. Even the mere perception of impropriety erodes the American people’s confidence in our judicial system — and federal judges, particularly our Supreme Court justices, should welcome the opportunity to show that they are invested not in their long-term personal wealth, but in the long-term strength of our republic.” 

“The Justice is BLIND Act represents a strong step toward reducing conflicts of interest for federal judges and justices,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, Senior Government Affairs Manager at the Project On Government Oversight. “There is no reason why these judicial officers should be creating conflicts of interest for themselves by playing the market, when executive branch officials have long been required to avoid conflicts of interest with stock holdings. It’s time the judicial branch caught up, and POGO applauds Reps. Schiff, Johnson, and Spanberger for introducing this bill."

“The Supreme Court is mired in a crisis of public confidence with new allegations of conflicts of interest and financial impropriety constantly coming to light," said Debra Perlin, Policy Director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The Justice is BLIND Act will help to rebuild public trust in the judiciary by requiring federal judges and justices to place certain assets into qualified blind trusts, effectively banning the trading of individual stocks. CREW applauds Rep. Schiff for introducing this crucial piece of legislation. It is a necessary first step in a long-line of ethics reforms that are needed throughout the judiciary."

"National Taxpayers Union is pleased to support the Justice Is BLIND Act, which would help increase taxpayer confidence in our judicial system. We need to improve ethical standards across all branches of government to ensure federal officials are acting in the best interest of the public, and this legislation would take an important step in that direction,” said Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President at the National Taxpayers Union.

For decades, judges’ and justices’ holding of financial assets have created major conflicts of interest in the federal judiciary. The Wall Street Journal reviewed financial disclosures from 2010 to 2018 and found that 131 federal judges heard cases where they had a financial interest, despite existing federal law that requires judges to recuse themselves when their legal decisions may be impacted by their personal financial interests.


The Justice is BLIND Act would create a stricter, enforceable framework of requirements to encourage impartial decision making by:

  1. Requiring federal judges and justices as well as their spouses and dependent children to place any covered financial interests in a qualified blind trust no later than 90 days after the legislation’s enactment or their assumption of office.
  2. Allowing federal judges and justices to remove assets from the qualified blind trust 180 days after they leave the bench.
  3. Barring federal judges and justices from seeking information about the financial interests placed in such a qualified blind trust beyond their initial assets.
  4. Requiring federal judges and justices to attest in writing that they have established a qualified blind trust and that neither they, nor their spouses or dependent children, have any financial interests.
  5. Requiring the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to make such attestation available on a searchable online database.
  6. Allowing exceptions for a widely held and diversified investment fund or a U.S. Treasury bill, note, or bond.

The Justice is BLIND Act is endorsed by the Center for Popular Democracy, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Demand Justice, End Citizens United, Fix the Court, Free Speech for People, Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, League of Conservation Voters, National Taxpayers Union, People For the American Way (PFAW), Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Stand Up America, Take Back the Court, and Taxpayers for Common Sense. 

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.), Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington D.C.), and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands).

You can find the full bill text here.