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Supreme Court Justice Alito facing ethics complaint from angry Senate Democrat

 September 7, 2023

A senior Democratic senator has initiated an ethics inquiry into Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's actions, alleging potential breaches in judicial ethics standards, as Fox News reported.

Whitehouse's Letter to Chief Justice Roberts

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, who also serves as the Senate Judiciary Courts Subcommittee chairman, has addressed a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, formally seeking an ethics investigation concerning Justice Alito's vocal reservations about Whitehouse's proposed ethics reform for the high court.

The senator's correspondence to Chief Justice Roberts reads, "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."

Whitehouse further emphasized the significance of the Supreme Court's need to uphold its members' ethical standards, urging the chief justice to oversee or direct the Judicial Conference to examine the matter, while also keeping the public informed.

Justice Alito's Defense

Justice Alito, countering the contentions, has affirmed that the Constitution doesn't grant Congress the authority to supervise the Supreme Court.

In defense of his stance, he also penned an op-ed in which he acknowledged his omission in recording a 2008 fishing expedition, which Republican billionaire Paul Singer attended.

Alito, however, stated that such an outing did not necessitate formal reporting.

The Whitehouse letter emerges in a landscape in which the Supreme Court doesn't possess an official protocol for the receipt of complaints of this nature.

Sen. Whitehouse in his letter, also pointed to Alito's remarks as potentially having links with ongoing Senate probes into undisclosed gifts allegedly received by the justice.

Whitehouse's office, in a public statement, noted, "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.

The statement added, "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."

Allegations in Detail

The complaint delineated by Whitehouse's team purports that Justice Alito might have flouted five specific tenets of both the judicial ethics canons and the Supreme Court's Ethical Guidelines and Practices.

These alleged breaches range from inappropriately commenting on potential court issues to unwarranted involvement in matters due to undisclosed personal ties.

Additionally, the complaint raised concerns about Justice Alito possibly leveraging his official position for personal gains.

A recent investigative report by ProPublica disclosed that Justice Alito accepted gifts, including private jet travels, from billionaires like Singer and Robin Arkley II.

These gifts, however, were not included in his yearly financial disclosure, a requirement by federal regulations.

Presently, both the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees are delving into the conduct of Justice Alito and his fellow Supreme Court justices.