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FTC Op-Ed: A Supreme Court Above Politics and Above Reproach

Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth has an op-ed in The Hill on ethics oversights at the Supreme Court. Here’s an excerpt:

In just the last few years, nearly every member has arguably made a wrong call in refusing to recuse.

In 2010, Justice Clarence Thomas voted in favor a striking down certain campaign finance laws around the time he attended a meeting organized by the Koch brothers, who are known for their vociferous opposition to such laws.

In 2012 and 2015 Justice Elena Kagan did not step aside from cases related to the Affordable Care Act, though it is more than reasonable to believe she was involved in crafting its legal defense when working in the Obama White House.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently heard an abortion suit stemming from a Texas law that she was openly critical of soon after it passed.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, along with Chief Justice Roberts, have heard more than two dozen cases in the last few years in which companies whose stocks they own filed an amicus brief. The three collectively sided with those companies nearly 70 percent of the time.

In the 1980s and 1990s Justice Anthony Kennedy along with six of his colleagues accepted dozens of paid trips from West Publishing, a regular high court litigant whose arguments the justices frequently favored.

Roth concludes the essay:

At a time when the Supreme Court is being politicized to a degree rarely seen in our nation’s history, taking the important step of raising the ethical bar would generate greater confidence that the institution is acting like the independent one it was designed to be – one that is both above politics and above reproach.

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