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Congress must fix a compromised Judiciary & Executive Branch in Leader v. Facebook; U.S. property rights are on the chopping block in this case

Contributing Writers | OPINION | AMERICANS FOR INNOVATION | Jun. 11, 2013, Updated Jun. 23, 2016 | PDF
Justice Roberts is conflicted in Leader v. Facebook by his relationships with Thomas G. Hungar and Theodore B. Olson of the law firm Gibson Dunn LLP

(June 11, 2012)Chief Justice John G. Roberts’ nomination disclosure says he was co-counsel on two cases in 2002-2003 with Theodore B. Olson, former U.S. Solicitor General, now Co-Chair of Gibson Dunn’s Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group.[01] Those cases were Tahoe v. Tahoe, 535 US 302 (2002) and Smith v. Doe, 538 US 84 (2003).[02]

Olson hired Thomas G. Hungar to work for him as Deputy Solicitor General in 2003, while he was collaborating with John G. Roberts in Smith v. Doe.[03] Scratching this now raging investigative itch, we googled "Theodore B. Olson AND Thomas G. Hungar'."

The results are jaw-dropping.

Justice Roberts is Facebook attorney Thomas Hungar’s MENTOR.

Here’s what Thomas Hungar told Law360 in 2009 about their relationship:

“The Deputy Solicitor General who supervised my first Supreme Court argument back in 1992 was John G. Roberts Jr. (he’s since gone on to somewhat greater fame). That experience has played a foundational role in my oral argument preparation ever since, because I’ve always tried to prepare the way he taught me.” “Q&A With Gibson Dunn’s Thomas Hungar, Law360, Sep. 30, 2009[04] .

In 2004, Theodore B. Olson moved to Gibson Dunn. Then, in 2008, Olson hired Hungar at Gibson Dunn, evidently putting the team back together to capitalize on their “inside” relationship at the U.S. Supreme Court with their colleague and mentor John G. Roberts.

Here’s what Olson said about Hungar at his hiring in 2008:

"Tom is a brilliant lawyer and is highly respected by the legal community." [05]

In 2011, Chief Justice Roberts recused himself in the Microsoft v. i4i case “apparently because he owns Microsoft stock,” according to The New York Times, Apr. 18, 2011.[06]

The more likely reasons were because: (1) Thomas G. Hungar was Roberts' protégé, and the close personal relationship precluded his participation; and (2) Theodore B. Olson’s law firm, Gibson Dunn LLP, was representing Microsoft, so the appearance of impropriety was too apparent. Either way, he was conflicted and did the right thing by recusing himself.

But then a year later, in Leader v. Facebook, Justice Roberts was totally silent about his conflicts of interest. Arguably, his conflicts were much worse given his significant investments in Facebook and related companies in addition to his close personal ties to Olson and Hungar and Facebook law firm, Cooley Godward LLP.

Oh what tangled webs we weave . . .


[01] S. Hrg. 109-158. (Sep. 12-15, 2005). Hearings on the Nominations of John G. Roberts, Jr. to be Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. GPO Abstract | PDF | HTML Summary by Day.

[02] Smith v. Doe, 538 US 84 (Supreme Court 2003); Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 535 US 302 (Supreme Court 2002).

[03] Press Release. (Oct. 21, 2008). Former Deputy Solicitor General Thomas G. Hungar Returns to Gibson Dunn’s DC Office .Gibson Dunn LLP.

[04] Law360. (Jun. 11, 2013). Q&A With Gibson Dunn’s Thomas Hungar. Portfolio Media.

[05] Op. cit.

[06] Adam Liptak. (Apr. 18, 2011). Court Hears Arguments in Microsoft's Appeal of Patent Case.The New York Times.

1 comment:

  1. Comment by: Lisa


    As of Tuesday morning, Amazon sales of George Orwell's Dystopian novel 1984 had jumped 6,021 percent in just 24 hours, to No. 213 on Amazon's bestseller list. As NPR's Alan Greenblatt recently pointed out, many people have found uncomfortable resonances between Orwell's "Big Brother" state and the news that broke last week of U.S. government surveillance programs.

    I am reminded that this is exactly what Mike McKibben, Al Stern and Professor Hy Berman warned of:

    The world is following a pack of devils, it would appear.


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