Friday, March 13, 2009

How The Chief Resolved The Recusal Issue

Last month, the web was ablaze with speculation about whether Chief Justice Roberts would recuse himself from Wyeth v. Levine, because the Chief owns stock in Pfizer, and Pfizer had announced its intention to acquire Wyeth. Coverage of that issue appeared here, here, and here, among other places.

Here's what the Chief did: He participated in deciding Wyeth v. Levine (as one of the three dissenters in a 6 to 3 vote), perhaps because Pfizer's future acquisition of Wyeth is subject to conditions and ultimately may not close, so the Chief has only a speculative, future financial interest in Wyeth.

But the Chief recused himself from Colacicco v. Apotex (not participating in the decision to grant cert, vacate, and remand for reconsideration in light of Levine), a case involving Pfizer as a party. The Chief presumably still owns Pfizer stock and thus has a current interest in that case.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that the NYT article from March 5 discussing the Levine result noted that "[m]ost drug company stocks, including Wyeth's, closed up on Wednesday" despite the bad result. The idea that the Justices have any real financial interest in cases, based only on their ownership of stock, appears to be baseless. See also Altria, Riegel, etc.