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Across the Nation: Roberts sold more than $250,000 in Microsoft stock

Roberts sold more than $250,000 in Microsoft stock 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s recent decision to step into a relatively unimportant case involving Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming system revealed that Chief Justice John Roberts has sold between $250,000 and $500,000 in Microsoft stock in the past year.

Federal judges violate the law if they take part in a case involving a company they own shares in, although Roberts declined through a court spokeswoman to comment on his situation.

His decision, though, raises this question: If the chief justice can unload one of his two largest stock holdings (Time-Warner is the other), why does any justice continue to own individual companies’ stock, knowing that doing so sometimes will force him out of a case?

“We’re not talking about grandpa’s stock in the family business where a justice might have some sentimental reason for holding onto the shares. These are major corporations who regularly come before the court,” said Arthur Hellman, who specializes in judicial ethics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Roberts himself backed a change in federal law to make decisions to sell more palatable financially. In 2006, Congress changed the law to prevent judges from getting socked with a big tax hit if they sell a stock to avoid a conflict of interest, then reinvest the money in government securities or certain kinds of mutual funds.

—Associated Press

 Hasbro, Mattel said to have held merger talks

Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc. have held talks about merging two of the world’s biggest toymakers, according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal that would bring together the owner of the My Little Pony and Furby brands with Barbie and Hot Wheels.

Hasbro approached Mattel about a potential transaction late last year, and the companies have held on-and-off-again talks about a deal, the people said, asking not to be identified as the situation isn’t public. Details of how a transaction might be structured couldn’t immediately be learned. The talks may not lead to a deal, the people said.

Representatives for Hasbro and Mattel declined to comment.

—Bloomberg News

 Women must be interviewed for NFL executive jobs

The National Football League will require that female candidates be interviewed for all vacant executive positions, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday at a league-sponsored women’s event that was part of the run-up to Super Bowl 50.

The new policy will be akin to the NFL’s so-called Rooney Rule, a 2003 edict that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for open head coaching positions.

—Bloomberg News

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