'No-fact-finding problem': Alito hammered for refusing to recuse himself from billionaire tax case
Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Justice Samuel Alito on Friday rejected Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Richard Durbin's (D-Illinois) request Friday by choosing not to recuse himself from a tax case soon-to-be argued at the high court, according to NBC News.
The problem with Alito taking the case, according to the report, is that "one of the lawyers involved in the case, David Rivkin, recently interviewed Alito in two articles published in The Wall Street Journal."
The Guardian reports the case, called Moore vs. US, is "a$15,000 tax case that Democrats have warned could permanently 'lock in' the right of billionaires to opt out of paying fair taxes."
According to The Guardian, "The Manhattan Institute was one of eight conservative advocacy groups that filed amicus briefs urging the supreme court to take on" the case, and billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who is also chairman of the the Manhattan Institute — as well as "Kathy Crow, who is married to the real estate mogul Harlan Crow," have provided Alito "with private travel gifts and have socialised with the judges on lavish vacations."
The conservative justice wrote in his statement, "There is no valid reason for my recusal in this case."
Several journalists and lawmakers reacted to Alito's statement via social media.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote, "This statement of Justice Alito's exemplifies the no-fact-finding problem regarding SCOTUS ethics matters."
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan commented, "And what's Durbin going to do about it? I suspect nothing."
Editorialboard.com reporter Magdi Jacobs said, "Alito sat for 2 WSJ interviews w/ David Rifkin, who is part of the legal team in Moore v. U.S.. Rifkin is also counsel to a man alleged to have 'facilitated' gifts of transportation & lodging to Alito in 2008. Sen Durbin asked Alito to recuse from Moore v. U.S.. Alito has refused. To be clear, Rifkin & his team sought certiorari for the clients in Moore v. US.. which SCOTUS granted on June 26. Alito sat for his now-notorious WSJ interviews w/ Rifikin--in which he asserted SCOTUS was exempt from oversight--in April & July of this year. Totally inappropriate. This means that Alito has had extensive opinion-heavy interactions w/ Rifkin & also received specific media exposure from these interactions *while* the case was within the Court. Rifkin is additionally representing a man involved in inappropriate gifting *to* Alito."
Widener Assistant Professor of Law Quinn Yeargain replied, "again, fundamental disconnect here between Alito and Thomas repeatedly having major ethical lapses and facing situations where they should recuse, and Protasiewicz, who is facing *impeachment* for an allegation that the state Judicial Commission dismissed as unsubstantiated
NBC's full report is available at this link. The Guardian's report is here.
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