Research reveals close relationships in case threatening American democracy

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, new reporting highlighted cozy ties between Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and law firm Cooper & Kirk, which is defending North Carolina’s gerrymandered map in the pending case Moore v. Harper. The case, which has been called a “grave threat to US democracy,” has the potential to undermine fair federal elections nationwide.

The findings come on the heels of new revelations involving Justice Alito. Last week, ProPublica revealed Alito’s undisclosed lavish fishing vacation with a conservative billionaire who later had cases before the Court. Reporting from CNN then revealed Justice Alito’s and Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s troubling ties to Notre Dame’s Religious Liberty Initiative, a group which has filed a series of “friend-of-the-court” briefs in religious liberty cases since its founding in 2020 — and has recently curried favor with the conservative Court.

This is just the latest example in a troubling pattern of Supreme Court scandals — all underscoring the need for urgent reform. While every single other federal judge is required to avoid behavior that so much as looks improper, our Supreme Court justices are taking lavish vacations with billionaires and failing to recuse themselves from cases where they have cozy relationships with involved parties. Chief Justice Roberts could change this today, but so far, he hasn't shown the courage. As long as the Chief Justice continues to dodge responsibility, public trust in our Court will continue to plummet.”

Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig.

New Accountable.US research uncovered troubling ties between Cooper & Kirk and Justice Alito, including:

  • Justice Alito is a longtime friend and former colleague of Cooper & Kirk’s “hard-line conservative” Chairman and founding partner Charles Cooper.
  • Charles Cooper recruited Justice Alito as his Deputy Assistant Attorney General during the Reagan Administration and “remained friendly with” Alito afterward. 
  • In 2013, Cooper was pictured as he “renewed friendships” with Justice Alito’s wife, as well as Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni, at a Supreme Court Historical Society annual dinner where Justices Alito and Thomas were present. The same year, Cooper argued against same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court.
  • In 2006, Charles Cooper, while with Cooper & Kirk, was on the “murder boards,” or preparation sessions for Alito’s Supreme Court nomination process.
  • Cooper & Kirk partner Megan Wold, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in Moore, served as a law clerk to Alito.

As Truthout notes, Justice Alito, “who has not recused himself from the case, appears poised to rule with the plaintiffs — in fact, of the Supreme Court justices, he seems singularly ready to rule with the Republicans in the case, experts have observed.”

Cooper also has ties to conservative kingpin Leonard Leo. In 2021, Cooper & Kirk and Charles J. Cooper together gave up to $54,998 to Federalist Society, a key conservative group known for its leader and right-wing court “architect” Leonard Leo, who played a crucial role in Alito’s nomination process. Learn more about Leonard Leo’s involvement in critical upcoming Supreme Court cases here.


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