S.539, Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023

New from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Cost Estimate, August 23. 2023

As ordered reported by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 30, 2023


S. 359 would require the Supreme Court and other federal courts to implement several ethics and transparency practices, and would direct federal agencies to study and report on the implementation of the bill’s requirements.

Using information from the affected agencies, CBO estimates that implementing S. 359 would cost $5 million over the 2023-2028 period; any spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

S. 359 would require the Supreme Court to establish a code of conduct for justices and law clerks and set disclosure requirements for gifts, travel, and income received by them. In addition, the bill would require the Court to establish procedures for people to file ethics complaints against justices and for the adjudication of those complaints by a panel of circuit court judges. Using information from the Court and the Judicial Conference, CBO estimates that implementing those provisions would cost about $1 million over the 2023-2028 period.

S. 359 also contains several audit and reporting requirements. Under the bill, any party filing an amicus brief in a federal court would need to disclose the identities of individuals and organizations that prepared the brief, as well as financial contributors to those entities. Each year, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) would audit and report on compliance with that requirement. The Federal Judicial Center also would need to track and report instances in which federal judges recuse themselves or are not assigned a case because of a conflict of interest. Every two years, the center would report on and recommend ways to improve compliance with the recusal requirements. Every five years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would evaluate and report on the methods used by the Federal Judicial Center.

Text of S.530, Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023


Established in 1974, The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government.  It is charged with providing  members of Congress  objective  analysis of budgeting and economic issues to support the congressional budget process. Each year, CBO economists and budget analysts produce dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates for proposed legislation. This posting includes a summary of Director Swagel’s testimony, a link to the full text of the testimony, and a list of publications that relate to the testimony

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