Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse calls for information on Alito’s ‘inappropriate’ WSJ interview

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, requested information from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in connection with an interview with The Wall Street Journal last year in which the judge questioned whether Congress had the power to impose ethics rules on the Supreme Court. .

In the letter released Friday, Whitehouse, D-R.I., accused the conservative justices of offering “an inappropriate opinion on a question that could come before the Court” amid an ethical dilemma linked to donor funding of undisclosed gifts to the Supreme Court. judges in an interview with the newspaper last year.

According to the Wall Street Journal interview published on July 28, Alito had asserted that Congress did not have the authority to regulate the high court.

“There is no provision in the Constitution that gives them the power to regulate the Supreme Court, period,” Alito told the outlet at the time.

Alito’s interview appeared weeks after the same outlet published the judge’s comment refuting a ProPublica report detailing his failure to disclose an Alaska fishing trip with a Republican billionaire.

The interview, Whitehouse noted, was conducted by David B. Rivkin, an attorney representing Leonard Leo, who, according to the ProPublica report, had coordinated Alito’s 2008 trip with GOP donor Robin Arkley II.

Whitehouse argued that Alito’s claims in the interview were made “in your own interest, as the recipient of undisclosed gifts that are the subject of our investigation.”

He further accused Alito of participating in Rivkin’s “on-demand” interview, which challenged the panel’s investigative efforts.

“From the outside, it appears that the lawyer recruited you to bolster his legal case against our investigation, using the interview to make the point that he and several of his colleagues were making,” Whitehouse wrote. “The interview seemed both solicited and timed to be effective in the context of the ongoing conflict. »

Rivkin and a Supreme Court spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday evening.

ProPublica also published an article in April of last year detailing lavish trips taken by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and funded by GOP donor Harlan Crow.

Whitehouse noted that the interview was released shortly after the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced its ethics bill to the Supreme Court, which would establish new disclosure rules for gifts and travel.

Whitehouse made similar remarks in a September 2023 ethics complaint related to Alito’s WSJ interview in which he demanded that Chief Justice John Roberts take action.

The Supreme Court subsequently adopted a new code of conduct, but continues to criticize its application.

Whitehouse’s correspondence comes after Alito last month refused to recuse himself from two cases related to the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, after being asked to do so following a New York Times report according to which an upside-down American flag was flown in front of his home in mid-January 2021.