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Two Senate Judiciary Committee members are seeking the travel records of Supreme Court justices dating back a decade, claiming the disclosure would improve transparency in the judicial branch.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Kennedy (R-La.) made the request in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and US Marshals Service Director Donald Washington dated June 4 and made public Tuesday.

The senators have asked for all documentation relating to trips outside Washington by justices since the beginning of 2011. The requests include the names of the justices who took each trip, the dates of each trip, the locations the justices traveled to and the cost of the Marshals Service of providing security for each trip.

The senators explained that the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and Ethics Reform Act of 1989 requires government officials to disclose “outside income, gifts, and reimbursements on an annual basis.”

“The Executive Branch and both chambers of Congress have issued implementing regulations and/or rules that require disclosures beyond what the above-cited statutes require,” Whitehouse and Kennedy wrote before adding: “The Judicial Branch’s comparable guidelines are significantly less stringent.

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Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and John Kennedy say the move will increase transparency in the judicial system.Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

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“Even those requirements, however, do not formally apply to the justices of the Supreme Court,” the letter went on. “As a result, the justices of our highest court are subject to the lowest standards of transparency of any senior officials across the federal government.”

As a concession to security concerns, Whitehouse and Kennedy said they would be willing to “redact appropriately any sensitive [personal identifying information] of the justices and their families.”

Progressive groups have pressed justices to be more forthcoming about their travel, including providing information about the cost of trips. They also want the justices to disclose lodging and entertainment currently exempt from being made public because it is considered “personal hospitality.”

The issue briefly entered the national spotlight following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Weeks after Scalia’s death, The New York Times reported that the justice had taken 258 subsidized trips between 2004 and 2014. The paper also noted that at the time of Scalia’s death, he was staying at a Texas hunting lodge owned by a businessman whose company recently had a matter before the Supreme Court.



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Topics #Congress #Court #Donald #justices #Marshals Service Director #Merrick Garland #records #senators #Supreme #Texas #The New York Times #travel #travel records #years