Professor Arthur Hellman Quoted by Associated Press on Justices’ Stock Ownership

Chief Justice John Roberts has sold between $250,000 and $500,000 in Microsoft stock in the past year, allowing him to participate in a case involving Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming system. The episode raised the question: why does any Justice continue to own individual companies' stock, knowing that doing so sometimes will force him out of a case? The Associated Press put that question to Professor Arthur D. Hellman, who specializes in judicial ethics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Hellman said that there is no reason why Justices should continue to own individual companies’ stock. “We’re not talking about grandpa’s stock in the family business, where a Justice might have some sentimental reason for holding onto the shares. These are major corporations who regularly come before the court.”

Hellman noted that a law passed by Congress in 2006 enables Justices to sell stock without getting socked with a big tax hit. 

Read more in the Associated Press.

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