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Justice Alito Un-Recuses Himself from an April 16 Case

The Supreme Court Press Office today noted that Justice Alito is no longer recused in WesternGeco LLC v. Ion Geophysical Corp.

This very likely means he sold his stake in WesternGeco’s parent company, Schlumberger Ltd. According to Alito’s most recent financial disclosure report, the justice held between $1 and $15,000 in Schlumberger¬†(pg. 8) as of Dec. 31, 2016.

The sale is part of a larger trend: all told, Alito, Justice Breyer and Chief Justice Roberts owned shares in 49 companies at the end of 2016, compared to 60 companies at the end of 2015 and 76 companies at the end of the 2014. Fix the Court’s Gabe Roth had this to say:

“With a consistently heavy business docket at the Supreme Court, the justices are fully aware that the costs of holding individual stocks outweigh the benefits. In fact, only three own these conflict-inducing securities, while the other six invest solely in blended funds and fixed income and retirement accounts.

Each recusal increases the likelihood a case ends 4-4, rendering the Supreme Court less than supreme, so the justices should divest from the shares that are most likely to keep them on the sidelines as issues of national importance are considered.”

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