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Democratic, GOP senator join to get Supreme Court justices' travel records as part of ethics probe

The two senators are seeking 10 years of Supreme Court travel documents.

Updated: June 10, 2021 - 10:33am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A Democratic and Republican senator are working together to gain access to Supreme Court justices' travel documents as part of a larger ethics investigation into whether senior public officials need better transparency requirements.

Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy sent a letter Friday to the Justice Department asking for the travel records all nine justices' trips outside of Washington, D.C., since 2011, including where the trip was and the cost to taxpayers.

Whitehouse, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Kennedy, a top Republican on that panel, said that senior government officials must disclose outside income, gifts and reimbursements on an annual basis to comply with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and Ethics Reform Act of 1989.

They say Supreme Court guidelines are "significantly less stringent" when it comes to disclosures and that justices face less scrutiny than federal officials.

The senators say information on the justices' travels will help them "improve the consistency of disclosure standards across the three branches."

This isn't the first time justices have faced scrutiny over trips and money disclosures.

From 2004 to 2014, then-Justice Antonin Scalia went on 259 expenses-paid trips. In addition, he went on a 2016 trip paid for by a businessman to a hunting lodge where he passed away, according to RollCall.

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