What happened: A ProPublica report last week recounted an undisclosed 2008 fishing trip that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito took to Alaska with GOP megadonor Paul Singer. Alito allegedly failed to recuse himself from Court cases peripherally involving the hedge-fund billionaire. Alito has argued against the validity of such claims.
Alito’s defense: After declining to answer ProPublica’s questions, the associate justice preemptively penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Alito wrote there was no need to recuse himself from the SCOTUS cases in question as he was unaware of Singer’s connection to the involved parties since the billionaire’s name did not appear in any of the cases or court documents, thereby failing to pose a conflict of interest. Additionally, he said his job did not require disclosing “personal hospitality” activities at the time of the trip.
War on the Court: Earlier this year, ProPublica also published a similar report about Justice Clarence Thomas’ undisclosed vacations. Responses to both sets of stories have been sharply divided along partisan lines: Democratic lawmakers have called for the Supreme Court’s two most conservative justices to face disciplinary action, including impeachment, and Republicans have claimed the stories are attempting to “smear” the credibility and authority of the Court’s rulings.
Big picture: The Supreme Court leans conservative with a majority of 6-3. This is why Democrats have increasingly pushed for “packing the Court,” or expanding the size of the Court from nine justices to 13 in an effort to outnumber the conservatives. On Sunday, Democratic California Rep. Nancy Pelosi discussed adding more justices while also endorsing term limits for the Court. The attacks on the Court are working—recent polls show public approval of the Supreme Court lies at an all-time low of 30 percent.