Alito’s failure to recuse himself looked at as possible conflict of interest

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In 2002, Judge Samuel L. Alito Jr., who owned $390,000 in Vanguard mutual funds, ruled in favor of Vanguard in a case involving a Massachusetts woman who was trying to regain the assets of her late husband’s IRA’s. The funds were frozen by Vanguard following a court ruling in favor of the husband’s business partner.

The woman, Shantee Maharaj, requested Alito’s financial disclosure forms after he ruled against her appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeal, Third Circuit, and it was then that she discovered Alito’s ownership of Vanguard funds. It turns out that in 1990, when Alita was seeking Senate approval for his judgeship on the appeals court, he told members of the Senate that he would recuse himself from any cases involving Vanguard. However, when Maharaj tried to have him removed from her case, Alito argued that he was not required to recuse himself.

In 2004, Alito said that his holdings did not constitute a conflict of interest because his investments were in mutual funds, making him an investor in Vanguard, not an owner. Federal judicial ethics rules permit judges to rule on cases involving some mutual funds in which they have a stake, but not those in which shares comprise ownership. The Vanguard Fund describes itself as owned by the ”fund’s shareholders.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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