Justice Alito refuses to recuse himself from Trump-related flag-spitting cases

WASHINGTON — Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has refused to recuse himself from two pending cases involving former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

In letters to members of Congress, Alito said two incidents involving the flags occurred at his home in Virginia and a vacation property in New Jersey. First reported “Don’t meet the conditions for return” set out in the Supreme Court’s newly adopted code of conduct, according to The New York Times.

Alito said that in both cases “a reasonable person unmotivated by political or ideological considerations or not seeking to influence the outcome of Supreme Court cases” would conclude that recusal was not necessary. A letter Sent to Democratic Senators Other Sent to Democrats in the House of Representatives.

He said he had nothing to do with the decision to fly both flags raised by his wife, Martha-Ann Alito.

In the first incident, neighbors said the American flag was flown upside down on Jan. 6 and early 2021 after President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

In another incident, a flag linked to conservative Christians bearing the motto “Appeal to Heaven” was flown at a holiday home the following year.

Some Trump supporters protesting the 2020 election results have embraced both flags.

The Supreme Court is currently weighing two cases scheduled for Jan. 6: Trump’s request for presidential immunity in his election interference case and an appeal brought by someone who was sued for his role that same day. Judgments are expected by the end of June.

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According to the Supreme Court’s ethical rules, individual judges have the final say on whether to recuse themselves from cases.

The ethics code was adopted last year after a series of allegations of ethics lapses against Alito and fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, mostly against Alito. It drew heavy criticism because judges had to enforce it themselves.

Alito cited the Code in his letters, stating that a justice is presumed to be impartial, and that an “impartial and reasonable person” should recuse himself only if he doubts that the justice “can reasonably discharge his duties” if he knows the facts.

Explaining the upside-down flag flying in more detail, Alito said his wife was “very distressed” because of a “very bad neighborhood dispute” he had nothing to do with. There was the New York Times New details about that controversy in a story published Tuesday.

“A house down the street displayed a sign attacking her personally, and a resident of that house accosted her in the street and hurled obscenities at her in my presence. Addressed to a woman,” Alito wrote.

When he learned about the flag, he asked his wife to take it down, but “for days, she refused,” he said.

The New York Times account differed slightly, with a couple in the neighborhood saying they called the police at one point because they felt Martha-Ann Alito was harassing them. The Times also reported that the conflict between Alitos and neighbors came weeks after the upside-down flag had already been removed.

As for the second flag, Alito said he could recall it being flown by his wife, but did not know its meaning or any connection to the “Stop Theft” effort to change the 2022 election results.

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In both cases, Alito insisted that his wife was a private citizen.

“My wife likes to fly flags,” he added. “Not me.”

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