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Sen. Whitehouse Lodges Ethics Complaint Against Justice Samuel Alito

“U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Courts Subcommittee, today wrote a letter Chief Justice John Roberts to lodge an ethics complaint against Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for violating several canons of judicial ethics.  Whitehouse’s formal complaint follows revelations that Justice Alito accepted but did not disclose gifts of luxury travel and exclusive lodging from right-wing billionaires, one with business before the Court.  Justice Alito then made public comments opining on the constitutionality of Whitehouse’s Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency legislation to reform the Court’s lax ethics regime, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in July.  Justice Alito’s comments also implicated ongoing Senate investigations into Justice Alito’s undisclosed gifts. “In the worst case facts may reveal, Justice Alito was involved in an organized campaign to block congressional action with regard to a matter in which he has a personal stake.  Whether Justice Alito was unwittingly used to provide fodder for such interference, or intentionally participated, is a question whose answer requires additional facts,” wrote Senator Whitehouse to Chief Justice Roberts. “As you have repeatedly emphasized, the Supreme Court should not be helpless when it comes to policing its own members’ ethical obligations.  But it is necessarily helpless if there is no process of fair fact-finding, nor independent decision-making,” continued Whitehouse. “I request that you as Chief Justice, or through the Judicial Conference, take whatever steps are necessary to investigate this affair and provide the public with prompt and trustworthy answers,” concluded Whitehouse. Whitehouse’s ethics complaint lays out five ways in which Justice Alito appears to have violated the canons of judicial ethics and the Supreme Court’s Statement of Ethics Principles and Practice, to which all sitting justices claimed to subscribe:

  1. Improper Opining on a Legal Issue that May Come Before the Court;
  2. Improper Intrusion into a Specific Matter;
  3. Improper Intrusion into a Specific Matter at the Behest of Counsel in that Matter;
  4. Improper Intrusion into a Specific Matter Involving an Undisclosed Personal Relationship; and
  5. Improper Use of Judicial Office for Personal Benefit…”

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