In Mutual v. Bartlett, one of the most devastating decisions to come from the court for consumers this year, Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the Court. The customary practice of authoring an opinion routinely passes from one Justice to another at the direction of the Chief Justice. Another custom is for Justices to recuse, abstain from deciding on, themselves from cases in which they have a financial interest.
Justice Alito recused himself from only one case, a case that decided the influence brand-name manufacturers can have over generic manufacturers through monetary agreements, due to his financial entanglements with the industry.
Justice Alito did not recuse himself from an arguably more important decision, Bartlett, which prevents those injured by the products of generic manufacturers from recovering from those companies. The Court decided in that case, the company is protected from caring for the injured individual because the company is required to produce a label that is materially the same as the brand-name manufacturer.
“Alito’s failure to recuse himself and going so far as to author the opinion on Bartlett is a slap in the face to consumers,” commented Mike Papantonio, host of Ring of Fire. “It’s clear that this Roberts Court puts corporations ahead of people.”
The Justice’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry run deep and the importance of the issues decided this year cannot be over exaggerated. The mere appearance of impropriety or the casting of doubt on the motives of a Justice should have been enough to motivate one to recuse.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.