Justice Samuel Alito, acknowledging an unintentional conflict of interest, said a staff oversight led him to take part in a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC Inc. even though his children held Disney stock.
Alito voted against ABC in the case, joining a 5-4 majority that revived Federal Communications Commission efforts to crack down on televised vulgarities. The decision left open the prospect that the FCC rules might be struck down on First Amendment grounds.
That's not the part to be commended, this is:
He has disqualified himself in other cases involving companies whose shares he owns. In 2008, Alito didn’t take part in the court’s 5-3 decision cutting the punitive damage award against Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to from $2.5 billion to $507.5 million.
Alito also stepped aside in June 2009 when the justices refused to hear another case, concerning home television recording, that involved a Disney unit.
With the revelation last week of the Thomas's financial stake in the political opposition to the Affordable Care Act—Ginni Thomas received $105,000 in salary from a Tea Party group organized to repeal the law and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started—Thomas should recuse himself from the any future case coming before the court on the Affordable Care Act.
He won't, but he should.