Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Responds to Allegations in Engaging Op-Ed
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito preemptively rebutted claims made in a report alleging he failed to disclose a fishing vacation from a hedge fund billionaire despite the man appearing before the court in a number of cases years later.
The report from ProPublica alleges that billionaire Paul Singer appeared before the Supreme Court several times, including in a 2014 case where the court ruled in favor of his hedge fund in a dispute against Argentina in a 7-1 decision. Alito defended himself against these accusations hours before the report was posted, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
“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. Neither charge is valid,” Alito wrote.
On the accusation that he should have recused himself from the case because of this previously undisclosed trip, Alito contended that his relationship with Singer did not meet the threshold for recusal.
The justice argues that he has only spoken to Singer “no more than a handful of occasions” and that most of his conversations with Singer were “brief and casual comments at events attended by large groups.” He also said that the spot on the Alaska fishing trip in question would have remained unfilled if he had not taken it.
On the accusation that he should have reported the trip in the fishing trip in 2008, Alito argued that, under disclosure rules at the time, he did not need to include the trip in his yearly disclosures to the court. He argued that transportation to social events was not a reportable gift under disclosure guidelines.
“As for the flight, Mr. Singer and others had already made arrangements to fly to Alaska when I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant,” Alito wrote. “It was my understanding that this would not impose any extra cost on Mr. Singer. Had I taken commercial flights, that would have imposed a substantial cost and inconvenience on the deputy U.S. Marshals who would have been required for security reasons to assist me.”
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The ProPublica report was published hours after the op-ed was published, with an editor’s note on the op-ed saying it was a response by Alito to questions levied by the outlet to him. Alito did not provide comment to ProPublica for its report.
The report on Alito comes as the Supreme Court has been under increased scrutiny for its ethics and disclosure standards, amid reports that Justice Clarence Thomas had received undisclosed gifts from wealthy GOP donor Harlan Crow.
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