On Tuesday, January 16, 2024, The Guardian reported that Neil Gorsuch, a justice on the US Supreme Court, was urged to recuse himself from an upcoming case due to his close ties to billionaire Philip Anschutz. The case in question, Loper Bright Enterprises v Raimondo, could impact federal regulations and potentially remove an important precedent set in 1984 known as Chevron deference.

Critics worry about the impact on public health and environmental protections if Chevron deference is overturned. Experts say its removal could allow corporations like Anschutz’s energy companies to potentially evade meaningful regulation. Anschutz is estimated to be worth $14.9 billion and owns substantial oil, gas, and transportation assets that would benefit financially from less restrictive federal rules.

Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone stated that Gorsuch’s long relationship with Anschutz represented a glaring conflict of interest. Gorsuch worked at a law firm representing Anschutz in the 1990s and was recommended for the federal bench in 2006 by one of Anschutz’s attorneys. Gorsuch has also been a semi-regular speaker at Anschutz’s luxurious Eagles Nest ranch in Colorado, where they share a passion for activities like dove shooting.

Legal experts say overturning Chevron deference could undermine the authority of federal agencies and empower corporations seeking fewer regulations. Professors have warned this may lead to more “deregulation” allowing certain industries maximum profits over environmental and public protections.

Gorsuch and other conservative justices like Clarence Thomas face intensifying scrutiny over their ties to wealthy GOP donors. Reports detailed unreported gifts Thomas received including luxury vacations and school payments for his children. Gorsuch also neglected to disclose the buyer of a Colorado property was connected to Anschutz at the time of his Supreme Court confirmation.

With public trust in the impartiality of the nation’s highest court near all-time lows, advocates say the justices must take meaningful steps to avoid even the appearance of conflicts with powerful political financiers who stand to benefit from their rulings. However, the Court has so far resisted implementing an enforcement mechanism for its new ethical code of conduct.



Source: The Guardian