131 judges failed to recuse themselves from cases involving firms in which they or their family members owned shares, according to a report that 133 judges did not recuss themselves in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said they would hold hearings to examine issues identified in a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that judges had improperly failed to disqualify themselves from 685 cases since 2010.
Reps Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee's chairman, and Hank Johnson of Georgia, who chairs its courts, intellectual property, or internet subcommittee, in a joint statement stated they intend to introduce legislation to address some of the issues highlighted.
"This would appear to be a massive failure not just of individual judges, but also of the whole system that is presumably in place to prevent this illegal conduct," Nadler and Johnson stated.
They also stated they planned to re-introduce legislation proposed last year that would require judicial financial disclosures to be accessible online and require the US Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics for the justices.
On Wednesday, The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the judiciary's administrative agency, had no immediate comment. It had stated on Tuesday that it has safeguards in place to prevent conflicts of interest and was "looking for ways to improve."
The office had also downplayed the significance of the Wall Street Journal's findings in a statement, saying that the number of cases equales less than 1% of those 2.5 million civil cases filed during that period.
The Administrative Office stated that the judiciary took its duty to prevent financial conflicts of interest seriously, and that any failures reflected "inadvertent errors, flaws in software, or simple human error."
Nate Raymond reviews the federal judiciary and litigation. He may be reached by phone at firstname.lastname@example.org.