Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch‘s conflicts of interest appear to be piling up.
Today, the most-recently-minted member of the nation’s top court is scheduled to speak in front of a far-right organization–with alleged ties to the Islamophobia industry–at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
One civil rights group has penned an open letter to Chief Justice John Roberts asking him to intervene in order to “maintain public confidence in the Supreme Court.”
That letter, written by the Arab American Institute (AAI) and co-signed by 17 other advocacy groups–representing a broad cross-section of civil rights, non-partisan, non-profit and progressive organizations–takes aim at both the venue of the speech and the group being addressed. That group is The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), and they are currently celebrating their 50th anniversary–the event at which Gorsuch is speaking.
TFAS is a far-right organization with ties to myriad conservative academic fronts, legal institutions and ideological welfare organizations. TFAS is directly tied to the State Policy Network (SPN) group of think tanks and tax-exempt entities, according to The Center for Media and Democracy. SPN itself is funded by various multinational corporations including Facebook, Walmart and has their ground operation almost entirely paid for by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.
But, TFAS’ conservative interests are both obvious and advertised–and not the sole object of AAI’s concern.
Rather, AAI is concerned about TFAS’ ties to various anti-Muslim organizations viz. common donors. Their letter notes:
TFAS has ties to anti-Muslim groups through mutual funders. A noteworthy donor to TFAS, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, is also a significant funder of the Center for Security Policy (through 2013), the Middle East Forum (through at least 2015), and the David Horowitz Freedom Center (through at least 2015), all groups detailed in a report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) as part of a “tight network of anti-Muslim, anti-Islam foundations, misinformation experts, validators, grass roots organizations, religious right groups, and their allies in the media and in politics [who] profoundly misrepresent Islam and American Muslims in the United States.”
Here’s a bit of backstory on those three allegedly anti-Muslim organizations mentioned above:
1. The Center for Security Policy (CPS) describes itself as dedicated to “the organization, management and direction of public policy coalitions to promote U.S. national security.” They are classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center which describes CPS as, “a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States.”
2. The Middle East Forum (MEF) claims that the organization”works to define and promote American interests in the Middle East.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has not labeled MEF with official hate group status, however, they are included in the organization’s “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” and their founder Daniel Pipes is a noted Islamophobe.
3. The David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC) describes itself as “dedicated to the defense of free societies whose moral, cultural and economic foundations are under attack by enemies both secular and religious, at home and abroad.” The DHCF is also classified as a hate group by the SPLC which describes their founder as, “a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements.”
The venue itself also sounds alarm bells–it’s the president’s newest hotel; with the stated aim of capitalizing on the president’s fame–and Gorsuch has been repeatedly criticized for his scheduled appearance there. Some have argued it may prohibit Gorsuch from impartially judging issues involving the president. Others have argued the Justice’s speech there is actually a violation of judicial ethical rules.
LawNewz reached out to TFAS for comment on the allegations, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication. This post will be updated if and when such a response is received.
AAI’s Executive Director Maya Berry said, in a press release issued this morning:
This event does not pass the smell test. In fact, it reeks. While Justices may not be legally bound by federal recusal statues, there is a tradition of recusal when public questions of impartiality arise. And this is a no brainer. Either Justice Gorsuch bows out of speaking at the Trump Hotel or he recuses himself from cases involving President Trump. Anything less will reduce public confidence in the Court. You simply cannot be on the side of enriching the Commander in Chief and still be an impartial arbiter of justice when the President’s policies come under review. That includes policies born out of bigoted campaign promises.
AAI describes itself as an organization which, “represents the policy and community interests of Arab Americans throughout the United States and strives to promote Arab American participation in the U.S. electoral system.” The organization is non-partisan.
Other co-signatories to AAI’s open letter include: Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund. The full letter is available here.
[image via screengrab]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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