Document Type

Article

Abstract

Is regulation of Congressional insider trading desirable? We intend to use the STOCK Act (H.R. 682) as a springboard for approaching the need for Congressional insider trading regulation from a slightly more academic perspective. First, we describe the STOCK Act by placing it in recent historical context. Understanding the motivation to reform Congressional ethics that existed earlier this decade is crucial to evaluating the STOCK Act and its prospects for eventual passage by Congress. Second, we review the body of insider trading law that already operates to restrain corporate insiders and others from making some trades. The most important SEC rules, as well as the most significant cases in establishing insider trading doctrine-among them, Chiarella v. United States, Dirks v. Securities and Exchange Commission, and United States v. O'Hagan - are considered with an eye toward their relevance to what we will generally refer to as Congressional insider trading. To assess the practical need for regulation of Congressional insider trading, we also discuss Congressional ethics rules and the Speech or Debate Clause. The behavior of legislators and their aides is affected by both formal rules and informal norms, and we endeavor to explore both. The adequacy of current enforcement mechanisms for these rules and standards is also considered.

Date of Authorship for this Version

February 2009