The same day the court granted review, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were treated to a black-tie dinner by the law firm that will argue the case before them. The firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of a dozen or so firms to sponsor the annual dinner for the hard-right Federalist Society. Another sponsor, the firm Jones Day, represents one of the trade groups that also brought the challenge.
It gets better. Yet another sponsor was big pharma representative Pfizer Inc. And not only did the justices attend, so too did Senator Mitch McConnell, the key congressional member driving the political challenges to the bill.
It would be one thing if the noted conservative justices were simply guests. But they weren’t. They were the featured guests.
Justice Thomas’ questionable ethics surrounding health care reform range from failing to disclose his wife’s income lobbying against the bill to refusing to refrain from attending high profile events paid for by the Koch brothers. Some might call the dinner and the petition grant an unfortunate coincidence, but others, like Bob Edgar of the good governance group Common Cause call it something else.
“This stunning breach of ethics and indifference to the code belies claims by several justices that the court abides by the same rules that apply to all other federal judges,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause. “The justices were wining and dining at a black-tie fundraiser with attorneys who have pending cases before the court. Their appearance and assistance in fundraising for this event undercuts any claims of impartiality, and is unacceptable.”
We’ll know this summer just how much influence these groups hold over the justices when their decision on the constitutionality of health care reform comes down.
Photo from joeff via flickr.