Every year, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts releases a report on the judiciary’s financial situation, outlining the court’s budget and expenses. But this year, the report conspicuously sidestepped addressing any serious ethical issues that have plagued the court in recent months.
In particular, questions have been raised about the court’s increasingly cozy relationship with special interests and the appearance of conflict of interest for some justices, with nearly half of the court’s justices having financial ties to special interest groups. Some of these groups, such as the conservative Koch Industries, have increasingly tried to influence cases before the court.
Chief Justice Roberts has remained largely silent on these accusations, instead issuing a statement in the yearly report stating that expenditures for travel, conferences, and other activities “reflect a commitment to responsible management of the resources entrusted to the court.”
This statement may come as no surprise given Chief Justice Roberts’ past handling of ethical issues within the court, as he has historically downplayed any serious ethical concerns posed by the entanglement between justices and special interests.
Critics of the court have spoken out, calling on the Chief Justice to take action on these important matters. In a statement to the press, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland said “Chief Justice Roberts needs to address these ethical issues head-on and demonstrate a willingness to hold the court accountable.”
It appears clear that Chief Justice Roberts chose to remain silent on potentially serious ethical issues in his report, as he has done in the past. Critics of the court argue that it is the Chief Justice’s responsibility to ensure that the court is operating with integrity and transparency, and that blanket statements such as the ones made in his report are inadequate. Whether Chief Justice Roberts will take action on these matters remains to be seen, but these issues remain at the forefront of public discussion.