Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) lodged an ethics complaint against Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and implored Chief Justice John Roberts to “adopt a uniform process to address this complaint and others that may arise against any justice in the future.”
The letter came precisely one month after a coalition of 10 Democratic senators, Whitehouse among them, wrote to Roberts with similar concerns about Alito and the high court’s ethics.
Whitehouse’s new complaint stemmed from an interview Alito gave to attorney David Rivkin and Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto for a July 28 opinion piece published in the conservative newspaper.
In addition to writing for The Wall Street Journal, Rivkin is a lawyer for Leonard Leo, the former Federalist Society chief whose links to conservative billionaires and justices like Thomas have made him a target of the Senate Finance Committee’s probe.
Whitehouse argued the timing of the piece was suspicious and suggested “coordination with Mr. Rivkin’s efforts to block our inquiry.”
To get confirmed, Alito pledged to follow an anti-corruption law that he later ignored — now he says Congress can’t regulate the Supreme Court.
As the Senate considers legislation requiring the Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics, Justice Samuel Alito recently insisted that lawmakers do not have “the authority to regulate the Supreme Court — period,” claiming that this is an issue he and his fellow justices “have all thought about.”
But when Alito and most of his colleagues were trying to secure their confirmations to the high court, they promised the Senate Judiciary Committee they would adhere to ethics laws from Congress that regulate justices’ acceptance and disclosure of gifts, limit their outside employment income, and mandate recusal in some circumstances.
If Alito or any of the other justices had argued during their confirmation processes that Congress can’t regulate the Supreme Court, or that justices are not obligated to obey ethics laws, they may not have been approved by the Senate.
Responding to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire in 2005, Alito wrote: “If confirmed, in matters involving recusal I would seek to follow the Code of Conduct for United States Judges (although it is not formally binding on justices of the Supreme Court of the United States), the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, 28 U.S.C. § 455, and any other relevant guidelines.”
As ProPublicahasreported, at least two current Supreme Court justices — Alito and Clarence Thomas — have apparently failed to comply with a federal gift law that Alito pledged to follow.
The hedge fund of Justice Samuel Alito’s billionaire benefactor has been using a recent Alito-backed Supreme Court ruling to try to pressure federal regulators to back off new financial rules designed to fight fraud, according to documents reviewed by The Lever.
The hedge fund, Elliott Management, has been arguing that the rules are unconstitutional, and could ultimately try to bring a case before Alito to strike down the new regulations if they are enacted. The high court is currently considering a petition to hear a separate case involving the same firm.
ProPublica this week reported that Elliott Management founder, president, and co-CEO Paul Singer provided an undisclosed private jet flight to Alito, and has been a major donor to the Judicial Crisis Network, a dark money group that has funded campaigns to install conservative judges throughout the judiciary — including Alito. The justice has declined to recuse himself in past cases involving the hedge fund.
Nonetheless, the SEC’s proposed rules set up a potential court battle between the agency and Elliott, which could ultimately be decided in part by Singer’s Alaska fishing partner, Alito.
Elliott’s efforts to weaponize a recent Supreme Court case to block anti-fraud rules — and to potentially use the high court to kill them — spotlights how judges are in key positions to help billionaires who provide them with gifts and other largesse.
On Nov. 14, 2008, the Supreme Court ruling in “Citizens United” gave corporations the same rights as American citizens by allowing corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns. The Supreme Court did this by defining money as free speech.
Doesn’t money as free speech promote multiple votes for some citizens and only one vote for others? Doesn’t money as free speech defeat the essential idea of democracy? Even if such nonsense made sense, does it make sense for a corporate officer to vote once as himself and a second time as the corporation? Isn’t that “one man, two votes”?
Steve Schmidt and ProPublica writer Justin Elliott discuss ProPublica’s latest reporting on Justice Samuel Alito taking a luxury fishing vacation with GOP billionaires who later had cases before the Supreme Court. They also discuss Clarence Thomas’ previous conflicts of interest, if this corruption goes on with all Supreme Court Justices, and what the Court can do to regain the trust of the American people.