Justices' Stock Portfolios Cripple Cases

Supreme Court left deadlocked by recusals amid calls to divest
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2008 7:35 PM CST
Tugboats pull the crippled tanker Exxon Valdez toward Naked Island in Alaska's Prince William Sound, in this Wednesday, April 5, 1989, file photo after the ship was pulled from Bligh Reef, where it grounded...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The stock portfolios of Supreme Court justices have become a flash point this term, in which six cases could be affected by justices recusing themselves because they own financial stakes in companies involved. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, and Justice Stephen Bryer have bowed out of cases involving Pfizer, Exxon and Cisco, respectively—apparently because of stock holdings, Bloomberg reports.

Recusals by Roberts in one case, and Justice Anthony Kennedy in another (involving special education), have already led to the first 4-4 verdicts since 2003. Court-watchers: “We know it's important enough for the court to take, but we don't know the answer,” one expert said. The perceived reason is also irritating, and some think justices should just "dump the whole portfolio.”