Supreme Court's Alito sells oil company shares, documents show

Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:53pm EDT
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By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sold his shares in Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote) worth up to $250,000 that had prompted him to step aside from cases involving the oil company, financial disclosure forms released on Wednesday showed.

Justice Clarence Thomas received a bronze bust of 19th century slavery abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass from a wealthy Dallas real estate developer, and other justices took expensive overseas trips during 2015, the documents stated.

Justices periodically recuse themselves from cases in which they might have a financial conflict of interest, such as when they own shares in a company involved in a case before the court.

Alito recused himself from a 2008 case in which the court cut the punitive damages imposed against Exxon Mobil for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill off Alaska from $2.5 billion to about $500 million.

In the court's current term, Alito recused himself in an electricity markets regulation case, likely due to his ownership of shares in auto parts maker Johnson Controls Inc, which was involved in the dispute.

Alito also stepped aside in a Puerto Rico debt-restructuring law case because of his investments in funds with assets in Puerto Rico municipal bonds.

The bronze Douglass bust, estimated to be worth $6,500, was given to Thomas by businessman Harlan Crow, a contributor to conservative causes and a friend of the justice.

Justice Elena Kagan also received an expensive gift: a signed copy of a book by one of her predecessors on the court, Justice Felix Frankfurter, who died in 1965. It was given to her by the University of Chicago Law School, where she once worked.   Continued...

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito arrives for the funeral of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, U.S. on February 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo