Monday, November 07, 2005

Alito and Vanguard

You will likely be hearing news coverage presently questioning Judge Alito's hearing of a case involving Vanguard (The Federal District Court opinion may be found at 2001 WL 253648; apparently, the 3rd Cir. with Alito on the panel, voted without reported opinion to affirm). Below is my interpretation of why Judge Alito's non-recusal should be a non-issue regarding his fitness as a judge:

A cursory review of the case reveals that it is very questionable indeed whether Alito had any substantial outcome financially in the case. First, the facts of the case seem to parallel those of an interpleader situation (suffice it to say, that the legal consequences to Vanguard promise to be very immaterial to the overall health of any particular fund). Second, did you see those financial disclosures on the Justices? (Including even Harriet?) It seems likely that a large deal of Judges and Justices in this country have money in a Vanguard fund of some flavor. The Star Fund, according to my information, is the most commonly invested fund of this sort in the world. Should this mitigate the likelihood that a judge would feel conflicted about hearing the case? Maybe. How about suit against the PBGC, under ERISA, for a breach of fiduciary duty? Potentially a whole lotta people, including judges would "have an interest" in a suit of that nature.