Alito declined to comment for the ProPublica story, instead bashing the outlet’s reporting ahead of its publication in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “ProPublica Misleads its Readers” Tuesday night.
The justice offered up a vigorous denial of wrongdoing: “ProPublica has leveled two charges against me: first, that I should have recused in matters in which an entity connected with Paul Singer was a party and, second, that I was obligated to list certain items as gifts on my 2008 Financial Disclose Report. Neither charge is valid.” Alito also denies knowing of the billionaire’s connections, adding that the plane ride wasn’t a significant matter because he “allowed me to occupy what would have otherwise been an unoccupied seat.”
Republicans have rallied behind the justice, accusing ProPublica of targeting the justice for political reasons. “Good for Justice Alito to push back against the leftwing hacks trying to intimidate the Supreme Court,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted Tuesday night.
News outlets rarely respond publicly when the subject of an article criticizes a story. However, hours after the justice’s article was published, ProPublica tweeted that Alito “didn’t answer our questions. Instead, he wrote an opinion piece attacking as unfair a story he hadn’t read.”
Democrats on Capitol Hill wasted no time in offering their rebukes of the conservative justice’s behavior.
“Americans used to respect the Supreme Court. Now with the flagrant violations of ethical rules and possibly laws by Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas (and potentially other Justices), Americans can rightfully ask: has the Supreme Court turned into a cesspool of corruption?” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted Wednesday.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who has championed legislation to increase ethics regulations for Supreme Court justices, said the op-ed only increased his concerns ahead of the ProPublica report.
“This just keeps getting worse,” Whitehouse tweeted Tuesday evening.