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Supreme Court Justice Alito: My fundraising for conservative causes is ‘not important’

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Statement and fundraising appear to conflict with Code of Conduct for United States Judges

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. said his involvement with a conservative fundraiser was “not important” after being confronted by a Think Progress blogger Tuesday night.

At a fundraising event for the right-wing magazine American Spectator, Lee Fang of Think Progress asked Alito why he thought it was appropriate to attend such a highly political fundraiser.

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“It’s not important that I’m here,” Alito reportedly told Fang.

“You also helped headline this same event two years ago, obviously helping to raise political money as the keynote,” Fang shot back, only to receive the same response from Alito before he walked away. “It’s not important.”

The American Spectator fundraising event featured Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, Republican Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), US Chamber of Commerce board member William Walton, and major Republican donor Paul Singer.

According to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a justice should not “solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate.”

In 2009, Alito also headlined a fundraising dinner for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which funded the conservative journalist James O’Keefe and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. Alito is reported to have helped the institute raise $70,000.

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Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States by President George W. Bush in October 2005 to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He has served on the court since January of 2006.

His appointment shifted the court to the right.

“The point is not that Justice Alito has turned out to be exceptionally conservative, though he has: he is the third-most conservative justice to serve on the court since 1937, behind only Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist,” Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote in July. “It is that he replaced the more liberal justice who was at the ideological center of the court.”

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The American Civil Liberties Union publicly opposed Alito’s nomination.

“Judge Alito has all too often taken a hostile position toward our fundamental civil liberties and civil rights,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The Supreme Court is the final guardian of our liberties, and Judge Alito has shown that he lacks the dedication to that commitment.”

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