Nader asks justices to recuse themselves from prize for jurists

March 23, 1995|By Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Consumer advocate Ralph Nader urged the Supreme Court justices and other federal judges yesterday to end any role they have in a prize program for federal judges that is financed by a major legal publisher, West Publishing Co. of Minneapolis.

In a letter to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the policy-making U.S. Judiciary Conference, Mr. Nader reacted to recent published reports about expensive travel by justices at West's expense as they sat on a prize selection committee.

A three-member selection panel picks the winner of the so-called Edward Devitt Award, a $15,000 cash prize to an outstanding federal jurist. The relationship between the justices and West Publishing was disclosed this month in articles by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Mr. Nader said judges should not accept the money from "a company that seems to benefit so much from favored treatment by the courts." He attacked West Publishing for its lobbying to preserve its major position in the legal publishing world.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Toni House said: "We have not seen the letter" from Mr. Nader.

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