By Tony Mauro
A group of open-government advocates is calling on the Supreme Court to improve public access to the financial disclosure forms justices fill out every year. Instead of releasing the documents in paper form through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on a delayed basis, and only on request, the groups say the court should make them immediately available online.
"We strongly urge the Court to increase its overall transparency by posting the Justices’ financial disclosure forms on its website as soon as they become available each year, beginning with those filed in 2013," the organizations said in a July 23 letter sent to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.
"This policy change will make it much easier for interested citizens to access the Justices’ financial information, promoting public confidence in the federal government in general, and in the Supreme Court in particular," according to the letter. "As the highest court in the nation, the Supreme Court would also serve as a powerful model of transparency and openness for the rest of the judiciary—both state and federal."
In making the request, the organizations noted that the president, vice president and members of Congress post their financial disclosures online quickly. "Indeed, the U.S. House and Senate even provide searchable databases containing this information," the letter states.