In testimony this morning, Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. declared that it was “clear” that “special interests should not be permitted to lobby federal judges” and he committed to examining the problem of corporate-funded junkets for judges if confirmed as Chief Justice.
In two investigative reports, one released in 2000 and the second in 2004, Community Rights Counsel has exposed how corporations and special interests use lavish “educational” trips to resorts to lobby federal judges on hot-button legal topics. These junkets for judges have been harshly condemned by the nation’s leading experts in legal ethics, former judges, members of Congress and dozens of newspaper editorial pages from across the country and across the ideological spectrum. Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would ban judicial junkets.
This morning, Senator Russ Feingold pressed Judge Roberts to commit to setting “a high ethical tone for the federal judiciary by putting in place new codes of conduct that would prohibit judges from participating in privately funded, quote, judicial education, unquote, that lets special interests essentially lobby federal judges.” Judge Roberts agreed to study the issue and unequivocally stated that special interests should not be able to lobby the judiciary. Roberts’ comments came in stark contrast to those of a business lobbyist, who was quoted last week by The Hill newspaper saying “If we lobby two branches of government, why don't we lobby the third?” Elana Schor, Business Frugal in Roberts’ Support, The Hill, September 8, 2005.
“Community Rights Counsel applauds Judge Roberts for recognizing that ethics rules cannot permit judges to be lobbied,” commented Doug Kendall, Executive Director of Community Rights Counsel. “Judge Roberts committed to study the issue if confirmed, and a fair study of this issue can lead to only one conclusion: judicial junkets must be banned.”