Alito Responds To Senate Democrats
Justice Samuel Alito flatly rejected demands from Senate Democrats that he recuse himself from an upcoming Supreme Court case. On Friday, Alito stated that the argument put forth by Democrats, led by Sen. Dick Durbin, was invalid and that there was “no valid reason for my recusal” in the case of Moore v. United States.
The controversy began when Alito sat down for a four-hour Wall Street Journal interview with opinion journalist David B. Rivkin. The interview aired weeks after the Democrats had asked Chief Justice John Roberts to “take appropriate steps” to ensure that Alito recused himself from the Supreme Court case.
Rivkin is one of the lawyers in the case and also represents Leonard Leo, the onetime leader of the conservative legal group The Federalist Society, in his dealings with the Senate Democrats. In July, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an ethics code for the Supreme Court on a party-line vote, which has yet to become law.
Alito stated in the interview that Congress has no “authority to regulate the Supreme Court”. He said, “I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court—period.”
In response, Durbin accused Alito of eroding public trust in the Supreme Court. Durbin said, “Justice Alito, of the originalist school of thinking that empty seats on an airplane don’t count as gifts, surprises no one by sitting on a case involving a lawyer who honored him with a puff piece in the Wall Street Journal.” He added, “Why do these justices continue to take a wrecking ball to the reputation of the highest court in the land?”
Alito addressed the controversy in an unusual statement added to a list of Supreme Court orders. He remarked that his Supreme Court colleagues were regularly presented with cases wherein one of the attorneys had spoken favorably or unfavorably about their work or character. Alito argued that if they recused themselves from such cases, there would be less than a full bench and the Court’s work would be substantially disrupted.
Furthermore, Alito stated that he was required to put any comments and any personal connections with an attorney out of his mind when judging cases. He concluded by stating that there was no sound reason for him to recuse himself from the case and that he would decline the recusal request.
As the Supreme Court deliberates on the upcoming Moore v. United States case, the public awaits a resolution to Alito’s controversy. Although Alito stated there was no valid reason for him to recuse himself from the case, his relationship with Rivkin, Leo, and the Wall Street Journal has put his judgment into question for many Americans.