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Senate Judiciary Democrats wrote a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts demanding Samuel Alito recuse himself from future cases involving tax and ethics issues after the justice told Congress to stay out of the court’s business.
‘Congress did not create the Supreme Court,’ Alito told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. ‘I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court – period.’
The Senate Democrats accused the conservative justice of violating the existing ethics rules with the interview.
Congressional Democrats advanced legislation to impose new ethics rules after a series of reports of justices accepting lavish vacations and other perks that present potential conflicts of interest.
Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee, wrote that Alito had violated the court’s Statement on Ethics and Principals by ‘by opining on the constitutionality of legislation under consideration by the U.S. Senate’ Alito likely violated a Statement of Ethics the court released in April by ‘creating an appearance of impropriety in the minds of reasonable members of the public.’
Senate Judiciary Democrats wrote a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts demanding Samuel Alito, above, recuse himself from future cases involving tax and ethics issues after the justice told Congress to stay out of the court’s business
Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee, wrote that Alito had violated the court’s Statement on Ethics and Principals by ‘by opining on the constitutionality of legislation under consideration by the U.S. Senate’ Alito likely violated a Statement of Ethics the court
The Democrats also noted that one of the Wall Street Journal interviewers, David Rivkin, is representing the plaintiffs in a tax case to be heard next term before the Supreme Court – Moore v. United States.
‘Mr. Rivkin’s access to Justice Alito and efforts to help Justice Alito air his personal grievances could cast doubt on Justice Alito’s ability to fairly discharge his duties in a case in which Mr. Rivkin represents one of the parties,’ Durbin said, arguing Alito should not decide tax cases.
But Roberts does not have the authority to order Alito to recuse under current rules – Alito can only choose to recuse himself.
The Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill last month that would force the Supreme Court to adopt a stronger ethics policy.
Last month Alito went to war with ProPublica after the publication released a report revealing the justice enjoyed a luxury fishing expedition to Alaska, likely worth tens of thousands of dollars, courtesy of a Republican megadonor.
Alito did not recuse himself from cases involving the billionaire’s companies on multiple occasions when they later came before the court.
Rather than respond to investigative news site ProPublica when its reporters asked him for comment, Alito chose to go on the attack.
On Tuesday evening, he slammed the not-yet-published report as ‘misleading’ with his own lawyerly account of the trip, reflecting what appears to be growing anger among justices that their integrity is being questioned.
‘ProPublica has leveled two charges against me: first, that I should have recused in matters in which an entity connected with Paul Singer was a party and, second, that I was obligated to list certain items as gifts on my 2008 Financial Disclose Report,’ he wrote in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal.
‘Neither charge is valid.’
Leonard Leo, center, on the 2008 fishing trip with a guide and other guests. He is a key player in shepherding conservative judicial figures on to benches around the country
In July 2008, Justice Samuel Alito (center) traveled to Alaska thanks to billionaire conservative donor Paul Singer (right) and stayed at a luxury fishing lodge that charged more than $1000 a night. They are seen here with another guest in a photo obtained by ProPublica
Meanwhile, a string of revelations about ties between Justice Clarence Thomas and a Texas billionaire has coincided with a steep drop in public confidence in the nation’s top court.
Hours after Alito’s rebuttal had posted on Tuesday evening, ProPublica published its scoop,
It includes a photograph of a beaming Alito holding a monster King Salmon beside billionaire Singer during their July 2008 trip.
The hedge fund manager flew the justice to Alaska on a private jet – a trip that could have cost as much as $100,000 if Alito had paid for it himself, the report says.
He stayed at at a commercial fishing lodge owned by another prominent businessman. Three years earlier that same figure hosted Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.
ProPublica said its reporting of Alito and Scalia’s travel included examination of planning emails, Alaska fishing licenses, and interviews with dozens of people including private jet pilots, fishing guides, former high-level employees of both Singer and the lodge owner, and other guests on the trips.
And it said Alito did not report the trip on his annual disclosure.
During the trip, ProPublica said the group flew on one of the lodge’s planes to a waterfall in Katmai National Park. That evening they dined on Alaskan king crab legs or Kobe filet.
At the final dinner, a guest bragged that they were drinking $1000 bottles of wine, according to a guide.
In the years that followed, Singer’s hedge fund was involved in multiple legal wrangles including at least 10 that ended up at the Supreme Court.
In 2014, he won a decade-long battle with Argentina when the court voted 7-1 in his favor, winning $2.4 billion in the process. Scalia did not remove himself from the case, voting with majority.
In his pre-emptive response, Alito insisted he had not duty to recuse himself.
‘My recollection is that I have spoken to Mr. Singer on no more than a handful of occasions, all of which (with the exception of small talk during a fishing trip 15 years ago) consisted of brief and casual comments at events attended by large groups,’ he wrote.
‘On no occasion have we discussed the activities of his businesses, and we have never talked about any case or issue before the court.’
De la justice dans la Révolution et dans l’Église/Quatrième Étude,Le livre .
La Justice/Premiere partie,(la couverture) .
Notes d’audience ou Les Mémoires d’une « tribunaliste »,(la couverture) .