The New York Times is taking seriously a suit filed by the liberal advocacy group Common Cause against conservative Supreme Court justices Scalia and Thomas. CC wants what amounts to a "retroactive recusal" on the Citizens United case, stating that the justices have a conflict of interest because they both spoke before groups sponsored by the Koch brothers and therefore, the decision should be vacated and heard again.
Alana Goodman at Commentary:
But while the New York Times tried to portray Common Cause's petition as a serious legal challenge this morning, the holes in the group's allegations have continued to grow as the day has progressed.
Common Cause argues that the Koch brothers "were among the main beneficiaries of the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case," and by attending Koch-sponsored events, Scalia and Thomas could have had their votes influenced:
Common Cause said in its petition to the Justice Department that if either of the justices appeared before Mr. Koch's group between 2008 and 2010, when the court was considering aspects of the Citizens United case, "it would certainly raise serious issues of the appearance of impropriety and bias."
But according to Politico's Ben Smith, Scalia and Thomas appear to have attended only one Koch event each - and both events took place long before the Supreme Court even knew about the Citizens United case:
But Eugene Meyer, the president of the conservative legal group the Federalist Society, told me today that Scalia spoke to the Palm Springs conference in January of 2007. Citizens United was only filed on December 17 of that year. Thomas spoke to the conference in January 2008, after the case had been filed in federal district court, but months before the Supreme Court took the case in August.
And legal experts I've spoken to have also dismissed the basis of Common Cause's petition.
The Common Cause suit is nonsense - a publicity stunt. If justices are prevented from speaking at events for fear they might overhear some tidbit relating to a case that might come under their purview, they may as well ban the Supreme Court from reading newspapers, says Goodman.
"I've never heard of somebody filing a motion saying we'd like you to disqualify yourself from a case you decided last year because three years before that you gave a speech on a different subject [at an event]," said Ronald Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University School of Law. "If it was an oral argument, it would be hard to say without snickering."
Add a guffaw for the New York Times who, as AT News Editor Ed Lasky puts it:
How many stories regarding the politicizing of the news by the NYT will we endure? Recall, the front-page story of John McCain's supposed affair with a lobbyist? The constant disclosures that seemed designed to drive down Bush poll numbers - and those of Republicans? The Tucson shooting?
Add shilling for Common Cause to that list.