Justice Breyer heard eight cases while on the First Circuit Court of Appeals that involved insurance underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, an insurance syndicate in which he was an investor.
And like other justices, Breyer has rushed to sell a company’s stock as soon as that company’s name appears on the docket, as he did in 2012 in order to hear a case involving Amgen, a biotech firm – as if selling a stock one minute (and hearing a case the next) immediately confers the power to no longer root for said company’s success.
The Supreme Court does not require justices to explain the reasons for their recusals, and it’s clear why this opaque practice must end. While we do not assume Justice Breyer and his colleagues to be acting improperly, there is no reason for them to hide behind this antiquated practice that leave the media and members of the public guessing if and when a justice has a potential conflict of interest.
Fix the Court is calling on Chief Justice Roberts to establish a formal recusal reporting procedure in which justices would submit the reason for their recusal to the court’s Public Information Office, which would then post the reason on the court’s website. And we’re calling on the court to make it easier for attorneys and members of the public to file a request for recusal in any case.