WASHINGTON, DC – New reporting in The Guardian today highlighted the cozy, decades-long relationship between Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and billionaire oil baron Philip Anschutz sparking calls for recusal ahead of this week’s Chevron deference challenges set to be heard at the high court.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has maintained a close personal and financial connection to billionaire oil baron Philip Anschutz, is set to rule on the landmark cases that could upend how federal agencies regulate the oil and gas industry — including Anschutz’s own energy company, the Anschutz Exploration Corporation.

Not only would overturning Chevron deference strip power from federal agencies, harming their ability to serve everyday Americans — but now, we know billionaire oil baron Philip Anschutz would score big from a favorable ruling by his friend on the high court. This is just the latest in a long pattern of cozy relationships between Supreme Court justices and billionaires creating conflicts that undermine the legitimacy of the court.”

Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone.

“It’s far past time for these justices to stop putting their billionaire pals over Americans. Recusal from cases where they have glaring conflicts of interest is the very least they can do to restore some semblance of credibility and integrity to our Supreme Court,” Ciccone added.

New Accountable.US research uncovered key ways Anschutz has — and will continue to — profit from a favorable ruling, highlighting Gorsuch’s clear conflicts of interest:

  • Anschutz’s oil and natural gas company has profited from challenging regulations made possible under Chevron: after suing the Bureau of Land Management over a requirement to report water contaminants used in its fracking operations, which would have added a measly $11,000 to the cost of each well it operates, Anschutz’s company delayed a final ruling until the Trump Administration took office and dropped the suit.
  • Anschutz’s company leads the Petroleum Association of Wyoming trade group, the “voice” of the oil and gas industry in Wyoming, which regularly lobbies against the environmental regulations that would be threatened with the overturning of Chevron deference. The Association even praised Justice Gorsuch when he implied in his West Virginia v. EPA concurring opinion that the Chevron doctrine is unconstitutional.

Ahead of the term, Accountable.US led over 40 watchdog and accountability groups in sending a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts demanding he ensure conflicted justices recuse themselves from key cases. The letter highlighted previously-revealed conflicts of interest in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo involving Justice Clarence Thomas’s extensive participation in Koch network events — meaning both Justices Thomas and Gorsuch have refused to recuse themselves from cases in which they are clearly conflicted.


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