A new study by Fix the Court finds that three Supreme Court justices have sided with companies whose stocks they own nearly 70 percent of the time in cases in which those companies filed a “friend of the court,” or amicus curiae, brief.
The report, called “Blind Trust: How Supreme Court Justices are Ruling in Favor of the Publicly Traded Companies Whose Securities They Own” is a first-of-its-kind analysis that looks at cases and corresponding amicus filings since 2009 and comes as the justices are set to release their annual financial disclosure reports, which list each court member’s assets, securities and trusts.
In the last five completed terms, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Samuel Alito – the only three justices who own common stock – never once recused themselves from cases in which there was an amicus filing by a company whose stock they own, and they ruled with the amici in those situations more than two-thirds of the time.
To solve this overt conflict-of-interest problem, Fix the Court is calling on the justices to place their individual shares into blind trusts – or for Congress to step in and require that they do – and that the nine be subject to the 2012 STOCK Act, which requires timely reporting for government officials’ stock transactions. Fix the Court also recommends that the federal law governing recusals be clarified as to prevent instances of perceived bias.