U.S. Supreme Court

WaPo: Recusing Is Confusing

Posted Sep 28, 2007 6:06 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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U.S. Supreme Court justices should reveal the reasons for their recusals, the Washington Post concludes in an editorial.

The newspaper notes that reporter Tony Mauro of Legal Times recently said what two justices did not: The probable reason they recused themselves in Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta was because they owned stock in Scientific-Atlanta parent company Cisco Systems. Stoneridge is an important case involving third-party liability in investor suits that could affect law firms accused of facilitating company fraud.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. announced last week he is back in the case, apparently because he sold his stock. Justice Stephen G. Breyer remains off the case.

The newspaper says recusals because of stock ownership are routine and shouldn’t be left to speculation. “This silence is unnecessary and could be counterproductive,” the Post writes. “Savvy appellate lawyers, many of whom make a career out of arguing cases before the Supreme Court, can easily figure out the unstated reasons for a recusal. Only the public remains in the dark.”

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