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Breyer took part in case despite wife’s stock ownership

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer had a conflict of interest under federal law when he heard arguments in a case this week despite his wife’s ownership of stock in a company involved in the dispute.

A top court official says Breyer’s wife has since sold her shares in Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls Inc., which has a subsidiary involved in the high-profile energy case.

Supreme Court clerk Scott Harris says a routine check inadvertently failed to find the conflict.

The sale of stock worth about $33,000 came after an inquiry from Bloomberg News.

Federal law prohibits judges from hearing a case if they have a financial interest in a company involved.

Harris says Breyer will continue participating in the case now that he has divested his financial interest.