Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday announced a plan to crack down on misconduct by judges that would allow the reopening of an investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Ms. Warren, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said it was time to strengthen the ethical integrity and impartiality of the federal judiciary.
“It’s time to ensure that judges do not hear cases where they have conflicts of interests, strengthen our nation’s ethics rules for judges, and ensure accountability for judges who violate these rules,” the Massachusetts senator wrote in a statement describing her proposals.
She wants to give more power to judicial watchdogs to investigate judges and to impose penalties, such as stripping them of their federal pensions.
The rollout of the plan coincided with the opening of the Supreme Court’s 2019 session. She named several judges that deserved more ethical scrutiny and singled out Mr. Kavanaugh, who is a popular target of liberal activists over unproven allegations of sexual misconduct in high school and college.
Under Ms. Warren’s plan, investigations into judicial misconduct could continue even when a judge resigns from office or is elevated to the Supreme Court. Current rules shield judges and justices from further investigation once they ascend to higher benches.
She said the measure would allow the judiciary to reopen investigations of Mr. Kavanaugh and others who benefited from protection.
Ms. Warren also wants to establish a code of conduct for high court justices, as exists for lower courts.
“When Judge Kavanaugh was elevated to the Supreme Court, 83 ethics complaints that had been lodged against him were dismissed — and because the Supreme Court is not covered by a Code of Conduct, no procedure exists to file new complaints,” Ms. Warren said.
The plan also would beef up ethics rules:
• Prohibit judges from deciding for themselves whether they should recuse from a case due to a conflict.
• Ban judges from owning or trading individual stocks.
• Require Supreme Court Justices to provide written explanations of recusal decisions when a litigant challenges for recusal, which is not now required.
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