On Monday, December 18, 2023, the Center for Renewing America, a conservative think tank, filed an ethics complaint against Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson with the Judicial Conference Secretary. The complaint alleges two potential violations of ethics laws.
The complaint argues that over multiple years, Justice Jackson failed to properly disclose income sources for her husband’s work as a medical malpractice consultant. Federal law requires spouses of judges to disclose earnings over $1,000 from any individual or company. In her first financial disclosure from 2011, Jackson disclosed two LLCs that paid her husband for his consulting work. However, on subsequent annual disclosures, Jackson did not reveal her husband’s medical consulting clients. In 2020, Jackson acknowledged in an amended form that some previous disclosures had “inadvertently omitted” information about his consulting income.
The Center asserts that by withholding details of her husband’s clients for many years, Jackson potentially shielded conflicts of interest and violated disclosure requirements. As a medical consultant, they note her husband’s work could relate to cases before the high court. The think tank is calling for an investigation into whether Jackson purposefully failed to obey ethics laws regarding spouse income reporting.
The complaint also questions if Jackson properly reported contributors to her grand investiture ceremony held last September at the Library of Congress. As a private event, the Library confirmed the ceremony was funded by outside sources but Jackson did not list any donors in her latest financial disclosure form. The Center argues any donations over $415 for the well-attended musical celebration should have been disclosed under financial gift rules.
In closing the lengthy complaint, the Center asks the Judicial Conference to refer Jackson to the Attorney General for potential legal action due to her alleged violations. They assert Jackson has undermined transparency and her omissions risk creating undisclosed conflicts of interest requiring scrutiny.
The complaint states:
“Given the risk for these potentially willful omissions to create conflicts of interest and recusal issues, and the need to ensure equal application of the law, the Conference should refer Justice Jackson to the Attorney General for her failure to disclose her husband’s consulting income and open an investigation into the potential private funding of her investiture celebration.”
Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first black woman and former federal public defender to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2022, President Biden nominated her to the Court and the Senate confirmed her appointment.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.