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Top Democrats propose ban on expense-paid trips for federal judges

[JURIST] Senoir US Senate Democrats John Kerry (MA) [official website], Patrick Leahy (VT) [official website], and Russ Feingold (WI) [official website] have introduced a bill [Leahy press release and bill text] to limit expense-paid trips for federal judges underwritten by major corporations and political organizations. The three senators also included in their draft of the Fair and Independent Judiciary Act a provision to let the public know about potential judicial conflicts. Although federal judges would be barred from taking free trips to seminars sponsored by special interests under the proposal, the judges will be able to do so if their own courts paid the expenses. Paid travel by federal judges has been subject to criticism since 2002, when the public-interest law firm Community Rights Counsel [advocacy website] found that 22 federal judges took trips underwritten by major corporations and failed to list the trips on financial disclosure forms. Though US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was chastised in the media [Nightline report] earlier this week for allowing the Federalist Society [advocacy website] to underwrite his trip to a Colorado resort last fall, federal Supreme Court justices will not be bound by the new proposal. AP has more.

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