Court Battles

Democrats seek Barrett's recusal from case tied to conservative backers

Several Democratic lawmakers are pushing for Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from an upcoming case linked to a conservative group that funded an ad blitz supporting her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

In a three-page letter, the lawmakers argued that Barrett was at risk of bias in favor of a litigant funded by Charles Koch, the conservative billionaire behind a group that bankrolled a high-priced ad campaign for the Trump appointee's Senate confirmation last fall.

"Statute, constitutional case law, and common sense all would seem to require your recusal," Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) wrote in an April 16 letter first reported by USA Today.

"At a minimum, there should be a public explanation as to why you think recusal is not required under federal law," they added.

The Supreme Court did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity Foundation is among the parties that will appear before the justices next week in a First Amendment challenge to a California law that requires nonprofits to disclose their major donors to state officials.

The case comes just months after its sister organization, Americans for Prosperity, told The Hill it would spend seven figures to mount what it described as a "full scale campaign to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett."

Republicans' fast-track confirmation of Barrett in October followed the death of liberal stalwart Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and came about a week before the 2020 election, cementing a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.

Supreme Court justices are generally permitted to decide for themselves whether recusal is appropriate in a given case.

Earlier this term, Barrett participated in a case involving some of the fossil fuel industry's biggest players, including Shell Oil Co., despite her father's long-standing ties to the corporation, with her non-recusal prompting criticism from government watchdog groups.