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Supreme Court Justice Alito Accused of Failing to Disclose Trip with Billionaire
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US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has been accused of failing to disclose a luxury fishing trip he took with billionaire Paul Singer, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest. ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism organization, reported that Alito flew on Singer’s private jet in July 2008 to stay at an expensive fishing lodge in Alaska. Alito did not disclose the trip and subsequently declined to recuse himself from cases involving Singer, a hedge fund founder.

ProPublica based its report on planning emails, Alaska fishing license data, interviews with fishing guides, lodge owners, and others involved in the trip. The organization also published photos showing Alito and Singer holding salmon they allegedly caught during the excursion. Another wealthy Republican donor owned the fishing lodge where they stayed.

According to ProPublica, Alito’s failure to report the trip’s free travel and accommodations, which included a stay at the lodge, could have violated Supreme Court rules. It is estimated that the airline flight alone could have cost around $100,000 if Alito had chartered a jet independently. The report further revealed that Singer’s hedge fund appeared before the Supreme Court in at least 10 cases in the years following the Alaska trip, with one notable case involving a bond default by Argentina. The court ruled in favor of Singer’s hedge fund, enabling it to secure $2.4 billion.


In response to the allegations, Alito penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where he vehemently denied the charges. He argued that he was not obligated to disclose the free jet trip according to the Supreme Court rules in effect at that time. Alito also claimed that he was unaware of Singer’s involvement in the cases he presided over and never discussed pending litigation with him. He emphasized that recusal would not have been necessary even if he had been aware.

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Regarding the air travel arrangements, Alito stated that Singer and others had already made the arrangements to fly to Alaska when he was invited shortly before the event. He believed that occupying an otherwise vacant seat on the plane would not impose any extra cost on Singer. A spokesperson for Singer clarified that the billionaire never discussed his business interests with Alito.

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The ProPublica report has fueled concerns about the ethical standards and reporting requirements for Supreme Court justices. Many argue that the justices should be held to the same ethical standards as other federal government employees and that current reporting requirements are inadequate to prevent conflicts of interest. Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed his commitment to upholding the highest standards of conduct within the Supreme Court.

The report also uncovered similar issues involving other justices. It revealed that the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2005 also failed to report free jet travel and a stay at the same fishing lodge that Alito later visited. Earlier this year, ProPublica reported that Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife had traveled on a billionaire’s yacht, vacationed at his luxurious resort, and flown on his private plane without reporting these benefits.

While all federal employees are technically subject to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, the consequences for ethical lapses vary significantly. Members of Congress can face the risk of losing their positions through elections, and executive branch workers are subject to oversight by ethics officers. However, Supreme Court justices currently operate without any external oversight, raising concerns about the transparency and accountability of their actions.

The allegations against Alito and the revelations about other justices’ potential ethical lapses highlight the need for a comprehensive review of reporting requirements and ethics oversight for Supreme Court justices. It is crucial to ensure that the highest standards of conduct are upheld within the judiciary to maintain public trust in the integrity and impartiality of the Supreme Court.

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