Three Supreme Court Justices have been Ruling on Cases Involving Companies Whose Stock they Own

Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Justices Stephen Breyer (L), Samuel Alito (R) and John Roberts (middle) (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

The Supreme Court’s top justice and two associate justices have repeatedly ruled in cases involving companies in which they owned stock, according to a court watchdog group.


The organization Fix the Court says in a report (pdf) that Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito have created potential conflicts of interest by participating in decisions that potentially affected their stock portfolio.


Fix the Court reviewed cases heard by the court between 2009 and 2013, and focused on 19 cases in which the three justices owned stock in companies that filed “friend of the court” or amicus curiae briefs. The report says that, in those cases, 68% of the time Roberts, Breyer and Alito sided with the companies in which they owned stock.


The other six justices were omitted from the study because they don’t own a significant amount of common stock in individual companies.


The 19 conflict-of-interest cases involved such matters as mandatory arbitration, affirmative action, and corporate immunity for international law violations.


Examples provided by Fix the Court include three class-action cases, Wal-Mart v. Dukes (pdf), AT&T v. Concepcion (pdf), and Comcast v. Behrend (pdf), in which Roberts owned up to $100,000 in shares of Intel (which filed a brief in support of Comcast); up to $100,000 in shares of Dell (which supported AT&T) and up to $400,000 combined in shares of Intel, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard (which filed for Wal-Mart).


In another case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (pdf), Breyer and Alito sided with the defendant, which was supported by IBM (Breyer owned up to $50,000 in shares) and by Caterpillar, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, IBM and Proctor & Gamble (Alito owned as much as $280,000 in these companies).


Not once did any of the justices recuse himself from a case due to an amicus-related conflict of interest, according to Fix the Court.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Blind Trust (Fix the Court) (pdf)


Danielistical 8 years ago
Roberts' Supreme Court Is More Pro-Business Than Any Other Court Since World War II: Study The Huffington Post | By Caroline Fairchild Posted: 05/06/2013 It's no secret big business has some good friends in Congress. But a new study shows that the Supreme Court has also served as an important ally to the corporate world. The current Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., has been more favorable to businesses than any other court since at least World War II, according to a recent study published in April’s Minnesota Law Review. The researchers also found that five of the justices serving on the Roberts Court are among the top 10 most pro-business justices in the past 65 years. In fact, the two justices who werfound to be most likely to vote in favor of businesses are Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the only current justice among the 10 least favorable justices to business.
Fred 8 years ago
Funny how the liberals on the court recuse themselves from conflict of interest cases, but the conservatives do not. hmmmmm.
John Gannett 8 years ago
Clarence Thomas had a huge conflict in Citizens United as his wife works for the Heritage Foundation and he failed to disclose that in his financial statements when this case was up before the High Court. Clarence should have recused himself in that case as well. BTW, Breyer was a Clinton appointment.
Robert Montion 8 years ago
Do justices not have to place investments in blind trusts as does the president?
Christopher C. Currie 8 years ago
It seem to recall that Clarence Thomas has also failed to recuse himself from cases where he has ties companies involved, although those ties may not have included stock ownership. It appears to me that one of the reasons our Republican "Justices" of the US Supreme Court have placed serious new restrictions on the definition of "corruption" is because they wanted to protect THEMSELVES from being potentially prosecuted for corruption.

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