Justice Alito refutes report that he took a luxury Alaska trip with billionaire

Samuel Alito
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sits for a group portrait the Supreme Court building in Washington on Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Justice Samuel Alito did not disclose a luxury trip he took in 2008 with hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer nor did he recuse himself from cases that the businessman later had in front of the Supreme Court, a new report from ProPublica alleges.

The report says that after this trip, Singer’s hedge fund brought at least 10 cases to the high court. This included a case from 2014 involving a dispute between Singer’s hedge fund and the country of Argentina. The court, and Alito, voted with the 7-1 majority, along with the court’s liberals, in favor of Singer — netting his hedge fund, Elliott Management, $2.4 billion, the publication found.

Alito didn’t respond to ProPublica’s questions directly. Instead he took an unusual step to publish a preemptive op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, refuting the allegations saying, “I had no obligation to recuse in any of the cases that ProPublica cites.”

He adds he was unaware of Singer’s connection to the entities involved in the cases brought before the court and even if he had, “recusal would not have been required or appropriate.”

This new story comes after an April report from ProPublica that revealed a 20-year relationship between Justice Clarence Thomas and Republican billionaire donor Harlan Crow. During this decades-long connection, Crow provided the justice with luxury trips, tuition payments for Thomas’ family members, rides on the billionaire’s private jet and cruises on a mega yacht, among other gifts, ProPublica found. Thomas did not disclose any of this on his financial disclosure forms and later said that he had been advised that gifts from personal friends did not have to be disclosed. He pledged to disclose them in the future.

That reporting spurred a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Supreme Court’s ethics and a call by critics to establish a stronger set of rules for justices.

The court, however, has maintained that its members voluntarily follow a code of conduct used for lower courts.

In response to a request to appear before Senate Judiciary, for which he declined to appear, Chief Justice John Roberts sent a “Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices” signed by all nine members of the court that seemed to say the judge’s feel they are covered by existing ethics rules and don’t need anything more.

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