We now know that at least three times Judge Alito told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath we assume, that he wouldn't hear cases involving certain companies, yet he went ahead and heard those cases anyway.
I'm concerned that the media is already misunderstanding this story.
While CNN's legal affairs expert, Jeffrey Toobin, just said that there does seem to be a distinction between what Alito said he'd do and what he actually did, Tobin then seriously misstated the entire problem.
Toobin said there are two issues here:
1. Whether it's prohibited for Alito to participate in a specific case; andBut Toobin's description of the issues is missing the most important issue.
2. Whether there was some sort of computer glitch in the clerk's office that failed to notify Alito that he should have recused himself in the case.
The issue here isn't whether Alito was or wasn't required, under court rules, to recuse himself from these cases. The issue is that Alito promised, seemingly under oath, NOT to hear these cases, period - but then went ahead and heard them anyway. That's a lie. It's also possibly perjury. And at the very least, it suggests he intentionally misled the Senate Judiciary Committee ON THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS in order to get confirmed.
As for Toobin's second argument, that the reason the case came to Alito was perhaps a computer glitch, again that's not the issue. The question is not HOW the cases came to Alito, the question is WHY Alito didn't recuse himself, as promised under oath, AFTER the cases came to him, regardless of how they came to him.
In the Vanguard case, Alito went out of his way to argue that there was no reason he should have to recuse himself. Not only does that negate the computer glitch argument - it doesn't matter how Alito got the case, he was perfectly happy KEEPING the case and argued that he should keep the case. But what's more, Alito actually had the nerve to argue that there was no reason to recuse himself from this case when there was a very good reason - he had previously promised to recuse himself, under oath.
Again, it's nice to split hairs about whether Alito was "legally" required to recuse himself under court rules dealing with conflicts of interest, etc., but that's not the issue here. The issue is that Alito promised, we assume under oath, to recuse himself in order to convince Senators to confirm him. Then after Alito got confirmed - bam! - he turned around and broke his promise, and hear the case anyway. And not just once, but three times.
The man is a liar, quite possibly a perjurer, and at the very least he's someone with a proven track record of saying anything to Senators in order to be confirmed. There is now no reason any Senator should vote for Alito based on any testimony he gives before the Senate, or anything he says to them in private. Alito is not a man of his word.
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me three times, you don't get confirmed to the Supreme Court - though you do get to work at the most senior levels of the White House.