An Inspector General for the federal judiciary?


The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa, is proposing to create the position of Inspector General for the federal judiciary. See Lyle Denniston, Constitution Check: Do the Supreme Court and other federal courts need a watchdog?, Constitution Daily (May 28, 2015) (discussing S. 1418 (2015).).

As of this moment, the bill is not available to the public:

As of 05/28/2015 text has not been received for S.1418 – A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the judicial branch, and for other purposes.

Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from GPO, the Government Publishing Office, a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.

S.1418 – A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the judicial branch, and for other purposes, (click on “Text’) (last accessed May 28, 2015 at 11:08 AM Central Time).

Although the bill is generally unavailable, I received a copy and I have read it. With respect, I don’t favor the Senator’s bill. But given the federal judiciary’s lack of transparency in many areas, I understand the Senator’s motivation for introducing it. Nonetheless, I don’t like the blunderbuss approach when other more targeted tactics would work just as well or better. Additionally, the law of unintended consequences is always a concern (at least in the abstract).

The foregoing stated, if S.1418 ever passes, the world will probably keep spinning just fine. From time to time it may cause heartburn for federal judges, but that’s why God made Tums®.



9 responses

  1. For whom would this IG work? What would be next–an IG for Congress (or for each House)? An IG for the White House?

    In the end, I prefer the IGs each branch of the Federal government already has, however lazy it is in that function: the other two branches of the Federal government, each of which work for We the People, however lazy we are in answering that responsibility.

    Eric Hines

  2. Based on my experience with the judiciary in a number of respects, this proposal or something like it (and preferably something more aggressive) is sorely needed, however many Tums, or dozens thereof, judges may need to consume. The judiciary in far too many instances has made a mockery of justice.

  3. E,

    The bill proposes that the Chief Justice would appoint the IG and could fire him or her but must report the reasons why to Congress. When the bill becomes generally available, I will post it or the appropriate link in Hercules.

    All the best.


  4. Assuming the IG has the ability to discover misconduct what are the consequences if he/she does?

  5. It appears to me the IG may have to tell Congress I discovered a problem but my boss won’t do anything about it. A judicial branch John Dean I guess.

  6. The scheme is grossly inadequate. “Directly related to the merits of a decision” is where 95% of the malfeasance occurs.

    Nobody wants a judiciary that is above the law … except the judges.

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