Supreme Court Nominations

Some Potential High Court Nominees Have Extensive Stock Holdings

Some potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court own stocks at the center of legal disputes.

The Associated Press looked into the stock holdings of frequently mentioned candidates to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter.

Three potential candidates apparently own little stock, the story says. They are Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York; U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan; and Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears.

Others, however, have extensive stock holdings, AP found. A medical devices maker is a popular company among frequently mentioned candidates, while an organic grocer is a favorite of two appeals judges.

Such holdings can create conflicts of interest requiring justices to recuse themselves. Last year the Supreme Court was unable to hear a case involving accusations that companies aided apartheid in South Africa, apparently because of conflicts by three justices who owned stock and another whose son was employed by one of the companies.

At least five potential Supreme Court prospects hold stock in Zimmer Holdings Inc., a company that agreed to pay a fine and undergo monitoring to resolve accusations it paid doctors who used its artificial hips and knees, according to AP. They are Judge Diane Wood of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago; Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Sandra Lynch, chief judge of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston; law professor Cass Sunstein; and Judge Kim Wardlaw of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Wood and Wardlaw own stock in Whole Foods, which settled accusations of antitrust violations after acquiring Wild Oats by agreeing to sell several stores.

Wardlaw has also owned shares in Microsoft, Tyco International, Time Warner Inc., General Electric Co. and The Walt Disney Co.

Wood owns stock in a manufacturer that recalled potty seats and toy trains because of lead paint concerns.

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