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Sierra Daily

Feb 15, 2011

Supreme Court or Supreme Koch?

Hey you, Sierra Daily reader! You're a "reasonable person," right? And an informed one too, so you already know that Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were part of the 5-to-4 majority on the court that gave corporations vast new powers to influence elections in the case known as Citizens United. So as a reasonable person, would you have reason to doubt Thomas and Scalia's impartiality if you knew that, prior to announcing their verdict, both had participated in political strategy sessions with corporate leaders at a four-day retreat in Palm Springs hosted by the billionaire pollutocrat brothers, Charles and David Koch?  

Common Cause thinks you might. That's why they're petitioning the Justice Department to investigate the matter and, if it finds that the justices should have disqualified themselves, to ask the U.S. Solicitor General to petition the Supreme Court to vacate Citizens United. Common Cause is also questioning Justice Thomas's reporting of the visit: While a spokesperson said that he had only made a "brief drop-by" at the event, his financial report says that the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, had paid him an undisclosed amount for "transportation, meals, and accommodations" at the Koch brothers' wingding. 

“Koch Industries is one of the biggest polluters in America," says Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, "so it’s not surprising that they’ve spent millions blocking measures to protect our air and water. They have a lot of money, and they’re not afraid to spend it to influence politicians, fight public health safeguards and spread misinformation about pollution and climate disruption.”

--Paul Rauber

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