Supreme Court’s Alito Responds to Calls to Recuse From Trump Cases

Supreme Court’s Alito Responds to Calls to Recuse From Trump Cases
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito poses in Washington on April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said on May 29 that he will not recuse from cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach or former President Donald Trump.

Democrats, including top senators, recently urged Justice Alito to recuse after it was found an upside-down American flag flew outside his home and a historical “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew at his beach house.

Because the flags have been flown by people who assert the 2020 election was rife with fraud, Justice Alito “clearly created an appearance of impropriety in violation of the Code of Conduct for Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States” and “created reasonable doubt as to his impartiality in certain proceedings, thereby requiring his disqualification in those proceedings,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told Chief Justice John Roberts in a recent letter.

Justice Alito, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said the senators are mistaken.

The code of conduct, which was adopted in 2023, states that a justice “is presumed impartial and has an obligation to sit unless disqualified.

The code says that a justice should recuse in a proceeding where his or her impartiality “might reasonably be questioned” or “where an unbiased and reasonable person who is aware of all relevant circumstances would doubt that the justice could fairly discharge his or her duties.”

The upside-down American flag does not introduce such doubt, Justice Alito said, because his wife was the one who put it up, not him.

“As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused,” he wrote to Mr. Durbin and Mr. Whitehouse. “My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly. She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.”

He said later, “I am confident that a reasonable person who is not motivated by political or ideological considerations or a desire to affect the outcome of Supreme Court cases would conclude that the events recounted above do not meet the applicable standard for recusal.”

As for the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which is also known as the Pine Tree Flag and has been flown in America since the 1700s, Justice Alito says that was also flown by his wife.

“I had no involvement in the decision to fly that flag,” the justice said.

When he saw the flag, he thought it was being flown to “express a religious and patriotic message” and did not know of any connection to a group that has promoted election fraud claims. Neither was Martha Ann Bomgardner Alito, his wife, the justice said.

“She did not fly it to associate herself with that or any other group, and the use of an old historic flag by a new group does not necessarily drain that flag of all other meanings,” Justice Alito said.

The justice sent a similar letter to members of the House of Representatives who had also called for his recusal.

The members, including Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), said that a lack of involvement in flying the flags did not matter.

“Even if you had ‘no involvement’ in the display yourself, the fact of such a political statement at your home creates, at minimum, the appearance of improper political bias,” the members said.

They pointed to a part of the code of conduct that says justices should “should refrain from political activity.”

“Instead of taking responsibility, he threw the blame at his wife,” Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), one of the members, said regarding Justice Alito’s refusal to recuse. “The Supreme Court is destroying its own credibility and legitimacy.”

Some Republicans have said that Justice Alito should not recuse over the flags.

“Historically, the ‘Appeal to Heaven Flag’ stood for freedom/self-government – the very basis for our revolution against Britain,” Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said on social media recently. “I condemn the demonization of this flag and support Justice Alito’s right to fly it.”

A number of GOP members of Congress have displayed the flag outside their offices, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

President Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Wednesday that Justice Alito was showing “intelligence, courage, and ‘guts.'”

The Supreme Court is currently considering multiple cases involving President Trump and Jan. 6.

One case centers on whether the former president has immunity from prosecution for acts he carried out while in office. President Trump raised the issue after he was charged by a grand jury in 2023 with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and other counts for challenging the 2020 presidential election results.

Another deals with a Jan. 6 defendant who was also charged with obstruction. The defendant, a former police officer, says that the charge was wrongly brought because he did not tamper with evidence. Justices also heard arguments in that case in April.

From The Epoch Times

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