Whitehouse calls on Alito for info on ‘improper’ WSJ interview

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a top Senate Judiciary Committee member, is calling on Justice Samuel Alito to provide information about an interview he gave The Wall Street Journal on Supreme Court ethics, a request that comes after Alito declined to recuse himself from cases involving Jan. 6, 2021, and the 2020 election. 

Whitehouse said the interview, in which Alito said there is “no provision in the Constitution” that gives Congress the authority to regulate the court, was “improper.” The interview was published in July, more than a month after ProPublica reported that the associate justice vacationed with a top GOP donor to Alaska for a fishing trip. 

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“The interview raised several problems,” Whitehouse said in a letter. “It thus appears that you offered an improper opinion regarding a question that might come before the Court; did so in the context of a known ongoing legal dispute involving that precise question; did so at the behest of an interviewer who as a lawyer represented a client in that ongoing dispute; and did so to the benefit of his client, your personal friend, and to the benefit of yourself, as a recipient of undisclosed gifts that are the subject of our investigation.”

“I note that the Supreme Court is the only place in all of government where issues of this nature have no place or means of investigation or resolution,” Whitehouse continued. “So far, my questions regarding these events seem to have disappeared into a black hole of indifference.”

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The latest letter to the court comes as Democrats continue to be stonewalled by justices and Republicans in the fight over judicial ethics reform. The battle has only heated up after revelations that an upside-down flag flew over Alito’s home in Alexandria, Va., in the days surrounding Jan. 6 and President Biden’s inauguration. 

Alito told Whitehouse and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in a recent letter that he will not recuse himself from a pair of cases the Court is set to rule on that involve Jan. 6, 2021, and the 2020 election. One of them will determine whether former President Trump is immune from prosecution. 

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In another communication between justices and the Court, Roberts told the pair that he will not meet with them to discuss the matter, saying that it would be “inadvisable.” 

Democrats have been unwilling to try and subpoena the chief justice over the ethics concerns surrounding the court as it is unclear whether they have the votes and that it would create tensions on the panel. 

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