Portal:Corporate Rights/Should Scalia and Thomas have heard the Citizens United case?

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On the first anniversary of the Citizens United decision, Common Cause sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the Department of Justice investigate possible conflicts of interest that would have prevented Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia from making an impartial decision in the case. Common Cause cites the Justices' appearances at secretive invitation-only retreats sponsored by billionaire conservative funder David Koch, whose political aims were advanced by the decision. Common Cause also points to the fact that the decision aided Justice Thomas' wife, Virginia Thomas, by enabling her Liberty Central group (which was formed to take advantage of the Citizens United ruling and which also has ties to Koch) to raise and spend unlimited corporate funds, activities that benefit the Thomas' financial interests.

Federal law, 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), provides that any judge "shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The purpose of recusal is not only to prevent actual bias, but to maintain the integrity of the judicial system by avoiding the mere appearance of impropriety or bias. If the Attorney General investigates and finds grounds for disaqualification for either Justice, Common Cause is asking that the Solicitor General file a Rule 60(b) motion with the full Supreme Court seeking to vacate the judgment.

Read the Common Cause letter here. The Center for Media and Democracy attended the Common Cause-sponsored demonstrations near the Koch brother's retreat in Rancho Mirage in to help raise awareness of this issue and the enormous influence the Kochs are exerting on public policy.

See also legal scholar Jonathan Turley's reasoned take on Common Cause's effort here.