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Justice Thomas challenged on conflict of interest

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Advocacy Group Says Justices May Have Conflict in Campaign Finance Cases

WASHINGTON — When the conservative financier Charles Koch sent out invitations for a political retreat in Palm Springs later this month, he highlighted past appearances at the gathering of “notable leaders” like Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court.

A leading liberal group is now trying to use that connection to argue that Mr. Scalia and Mr. Thomas should disqualify themselves from hearing campaign finance cases because they may be biased toward Mr. Koch, a billionaire who has been a major player in financing conservative causes.

The group, Common Cause, filed a petition with the Justice Department on Wednesday asking it to investigate whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves in the case, involving Citizens United, because of their attendance at past retreats organized by the conservative financier Charles Koch, whose company operates a foundation that is a major contributor to political advocacy groups.

Common Cause also cited the role of Mr. Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, in forming a conservative political group opposed to the Obama administration as grounds for his disqualification.

The petition is a new tack for opponents of the court’s decision in the Citizens United case. Common Cause, by its own acknowledgment, faces a difficult task in getting the justices’ to remove themselves from the case and seeking to have the Citizens United decision itself vacated.

“We’re treading in new territory here for us,” said Arn H. Pearson, Common Cause’s vice president for programs. “But a situation like this raises fundamental questions about public confidence in the Supreme Court.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/us/politics/20koch.html

Lots of chest thumping that means nothing. The only Constitutional path for any recourse begins in the House of Representatives, and ends in the Senate.

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