Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito rejects 'political' pressure to recuse himself over flag controversy

 May 30, 2024

Conservative Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito has rejected calls to recuse himself from January 6th cases over a pair of flags that flew at his properties.

Alito wrote in response to Democrats in the House and Senate who demanded his recusal from a pair of cases touching on the Capitol riot.

Alito rejects recusal

One of the cases concerns an obstruction crime that has been used to charge hundreds of January 6th participants as well as President Trump.

The other case deals with Trump's claim of presidential immunity, which has blocked his federal 2020 election trial from moving ahead.

Alito came under scrutiny over reports that two flags were displayed at his Virginia home and New Jersey beach home - an inverted American flag, and an "Appeal to Heaven" flag, which traces its origins to the American revolution.

Democrats have cited the flags to tie Alito to the January 6th riot, where they were brandished by some participants. But both symbols have been used in different contexts. For example, San Francisco removed an "Appeal to Heaven" flag from City Hall in light of the Alito controversy.

Rejects "political" demands

Alito is seen as one of the strongest conservatives on the court and is a frequent target of attacks from the left.

His colleague, Clarence Thomas, has faced similar calls in the past to recuse himself from January 6th cases over his wife's involvement in advocating Trump's stolen election claims.

In response to Democrats, Alito said his wife is "fond of flying flags" and that she was "solely responsible" for the displays. He sharply accused Democrats of harboring partisan motives.

"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 this event does not meet the applicable standard for recusal," Alito wrote. "I am therefore duty-bound to reject your recusal request."

DOJ pressure?

Democrat Jamie Raskin (Md.) claimed that the Justice Department could pressure Alito and Thomas to step aside in a New York Times article.

"Of course, Justices Alito and Thomas could choose to recuse themselves — wouldn’t that be nice?" he wrote for the New York Times. "But begging them to do the right thing misses a far more effective course of action," Raskin wrote.

Democrats have aggressively pushed to reform the Supreme Court ever since it shifted to the right under President Trump. President Biden has sharply questioned the rulings of the conservative majority as "extreme."

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