A liberal lobbying organization has asked the Department of Justice to investigate Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas for possible conflicts of interest based on the justices’ association with a top conservative financier.
The group, Common Cause, filed a petition with the Justice Department after Charles Koch sent out an invitation to a political retreat for conservatives, and noted that past attendees included the justices. The petition asserts that the justices’ participation in the event should have disqualified them from hearing the controversial campaign finance case Citizens United v. FEC, which lifted some campaign finance restrictions on corporations. The group notes that Koch Industries is the nation’s second largest privately held company.
“Citizens United provided a political advantage to Koch Industries and its corporate allies, many of whom helped pump nearly $300 million into the 2010 elections,” the group says in a statement on its website. “Common Cause believes that if sufficient grounds for disqualification of either Justice exist, the Solicitor General should seek to vacate the Citizens United judgment”
Common Cause’s petition also raised questions about the political activities of Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas.
But according to The New York Times, group’s officials know that the challenge and effort to get the decision vacated will be a tough sell.
“We’re treading in new territory here for us,” Arn H. Pearson, Common Cause’s vice president for programs told the Times. “But a situation like this raises fundamental questions about public confidence in the Supreme Court.”