Common Cause Letters
February 28, 2011
The Honorable Antonin Scalia
Dear Justice Scalia:
As you know, Common Cause has raised a number of questions about reports of your attendance, and that of Justice Thomas, at twice-yearly political strategy and fundraising “seminars” hosted by Koch Industries.
Against that backdrop, I’m writing today to ask for your assistance in clarifying the extent of your connections and involvement with the political activities of Koch Industries and its top executives, Charles and David Koch.
On Jan. 21, the Los Angeles Times reported comments by Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg that you and Justice Thomas had attended Federalist Society dinners in southern
Ms. Arberg’s statements are inconsistent with an account of the trips reported in Thursday’s editions of the Washington Post. Recounting an interview with Federalist Society President Eugene Meyer, the Post said that while the society reimbursed you for travel expenses in connection with the 2007 trip, it had “no meetings of its own at the venue, an exclusive resort in Indian Wells, Calif.”
The Post went on to quote Mr. Meyer as saying the society “knew the justices were going to be out there," and paraphrased his comment that “the attendees would be interested in hearing what they had to say.”
In a separate letter today, we’ve asked Mr. Meyer to help resolve these conflicting accounts; I hope you can be of assistance as well. Your voluntary disclosure of details of your schedule, including all meetings that occurred during your trip to Rancho Mirage and the text of any remarks you made to the Federalist dinner described by Ms. Arberg and/or any Koch-sponsored meeting would help clarify the nature of the trip.
The court provides its members with a splendid platform to encourage civic involvement and respect for the rule of law by all Americans; we commend your willingness and that of other justices to speak to legal forums, law students and other gatherings about the court and its work.
But we also believe the involvement of any judge or justice in partisan political activity, particularly secret strategy and fundraising meetings like those hosted by Koch Industries, tends to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice. With that in mind, Common Cause respectfully suggests that the public interest, and the court’s, would be best served by your prompt and full disclosure of your attendance and activities at the 2007 Koch seminar and/or any other partisan political gathering.
Arn H. Pearson, Esq.
Vice President for Programs