“Appearance of Impropriety?”

Congress isn’t the only corrupt public body in Washington, D.C.  Check out Andrew Ross Sorkin’s most recent “Dealbook” essay in the N.Y. Times exposing corruption in the United States Supreme Court. Here is an excerpt:

In 2014, Justice [John] Roberts, Justice [Stephen] Breyer and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. ruled on five cases in which they owned shares in companies that filed amicus briefs. In all five cases, the justices ruled in favor of the company filing the brief in which they had a financial interest … From 2009 through 2013, they ruled that way 68 percent of the time — or in 19 cases. It appears that only Justices Roberts, Breyer and Alito own substantial stakes in individual stocks. The other justices, according to their disclosures, have investments in mutual funds and other instruments that would not be as likely to be affected by a particular ruling.

We’ve blogged about amicus briefs before. (Amicus briefs are self-serving legal briefs that are filed by “friends of the court” in a given case, i.e. private parties with axes to grind, and such briefs often contain many factual errors.) Federal judges must recuse themselves if they own a stake directly in a company that is a named party in a case, but at the same time, judges are not required to recuse themselves from cases in which they have a stake in a company that files an amicus or “friend of the court” brief. Talk about loopholes …

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