Three U.S. Supreme Court justices currently have decided to own individual stocks—Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Samuel Alito. Combined, they have direct ownership interests in 40 publicly traded companies, many of which frequently appear before the court.

As chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005-2007, I was involved in the nomination and confirmation of Roberts and Alito, both of whom were elevated from federal appeals courts. Alito had very few stock holdings at the time, and Roberts had some holdings but had carefully avoided violating judicial ethics rules by recusing from cases in which he had a financial interest.