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According to this article in Newsweek, people are calling for Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case because she has strong ties to anti-gay Christian groups. While these people are probably right that she is biased, this still seems a little odd to me. Barret does not have ties to 303 Creative LLC itself, or to anyone directly involved in the case. She just has ties to people with strong opinions on the issue, which seems like something that would apply to many judges in many cases.

Is there precedent for Supreme Court justices recusing themselves from cases when they have strong ties to groups with strong opinions on the case?

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    At this level we'd have to agree to a pair of recusals; like what happened for a recent confirmation of a supreme court justice. Otherwise it's political posturing with an appearance of asking for recusal for conflict of interest.
    – Joshua
    Dec 6, 2022 at 5:24
  • I don't understand how that's a conflict of interest. I think that "conflicts of interest" are usually taken to be where SELF-interest is involved, as where a justice has a financial stake in the outcome of a case. When Thurgood Marshall moved from the NAACP to the court, were civil rights cases a conflict of interest for him? (I don't see why ACB's view of sexual perversion is a "bias" either, but perhaps that a separate question.)
    – Chaim
    Dec 7, 2022 at 1:57

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Is there precedent for Supreme Court justices recusing themselves from cases when they have strong ties to groups with strong opinions on the case?

Not really.

Supreme Court justices decide unreviewably whether or not to recuse themselves from cases, informed by general canons of judicial ethics which guide their decisions even though they are non-binding on Supreme Court justices.

There is a strong record of Supreme Court justices recusing themselves from particular cases in which the justice was involved as lawyer prior to becoming a Supreme Court justice.

There is also a fairly strong record of Supreme Court justices recusing themselves from cases where they have a strong, personal, and particularized to them (as opposed to general to people of their class and situation) financial interest (e.g. from cases involving companies in which they have large investments or family members who are top managers).

In the example given of the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case, her strong ties to anti-gay Christian groups would normally not be a ground for recusal. General strong policy dispositions are normally not a basis for recusal. But, if instead, she were an investor in (or even a long time regular customer of) 303 Creative LLC, she would probably recuse.

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