(Corrects name to Nicolas from Nicholas in paragraph 7)
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON Nov 18 A U.S. Supreme Court justice
expressed concerns on Monday about how a federal judge required
plaintiffs' lawyers to take race and gender into account in
picking their legal team.
The court declined to review the case in question, a
challenge to a class action settlement that resolved antitrust
claims against Sirius XM Radio Inc.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote an opinion describing as "highly
unusual" a district court judge's practice of ensuring that the
lawyers who represented the plaintiffs have staff working on the
case who reflected the race and gender of the Sirius customers.
In his opinion, Alito said that "future review may be
warranted" if Judge Harold Baer, the district judge in the
Southern District of New York who oversaw the case, was to
continue the practice. In a future case, a class member
objecting to a settlement based on how counsel are chosen could
have standing to pursue such a claim, Alito added.
Sirius was sued after it was formed by the merger of Sirius
Satellite Radio Inc and XM Satellite Holdings Inc, a move that
gave the new company a monopoly on satellite radio services.
The class action was settled in August 2011 after Sirius
agreed to freeze its prices for a fixed period and pay the
plaintiffs' lawyers $13 million in attorneys' fees and expenses.
Lawyers representing Nicolas Martin, a class member who
objected to the settlement, claimed among other things that Baer
had acted inappropriately by bringing race and gender into the
In a December 2012 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals said Martin did not have standing to challenge Baer's
The case is Martin v. Blessing, U.S. Supreme Court, No.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and