45 House Democrats Call On Samuel Alito To Recuse Himself From Jan. 6 Cases

WASHINGTON ― More than 40 House Democrats are calling on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection over the display of an upside-down U.S. flag at the conservative justice’s home shortly after the attack on Congress occurred.

In a letter addressed to Alito and obtained by HuffPost, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), and 43 other House Democrats argued that the presence of the upside-down flag ― a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement opposing Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory ― revealed political bias and requires the justice to recuse from pending cases relating to the Jan. 6 riot.

“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 of Congress wrote to Alito on Tuesday.

“Reasonable people will doubt that you can be impartial in deciding whether Mr. Trump should face criminal prosecution for his actions arising from the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement,” they added.

The letter was organized by members of the Court Reform Now Task Force, a new congressional group advocating for a binding code of ethics for the Supreme Court and setting term limits for justices.

Alito said last week that his wife put up the upside-down flag after a dispute with neighbors over “insulting language” on yard signs, including one sign that blamed her for the Jan. 6 riot.

The justices are currently considering Trump’s claims for total immunity from prosecution relating to his Jan. 6 election subversion case, and a decision is expected sometime in the coming weeks. The court expressed skepticism of Trump’s legal arguments during a hearing last month, but several conservative justices, including Alito, signaled reservations about the charges that could cause a lengthy delay.

At one point during the hearing, Alito even suggested that, without immunity, it was the threat of criminal sanction that would destabilize democracy by encouraging presidents to use force or fraud to stay in office.

The Supreme Court also heard arguments last month in a case that could potentially upend convictions for many Capitol riot defendants. The justices appeared split on the issue.

Alito has drawn bipartisan criticism over the upside-down flag at his home. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday it displayed “not good judgment.”

“I don’t know what role ― he said his wife was insulted and got mad ― I assume that to be true, but he’s still a Supreme Court justice,” Graham told HuffPost. “And, you know, people have to realize that moments like that, to think it through.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said it was “weird,” before adding, “Why would you allow it in the first place?”

The Supreme Court has been under increasing pressure to address its ethics lapses in recent years. Revelations that Justice Clarence Thomas had cozy ties to wealthy GOP donors, as well as reports that his wife Virginia Thomas was involved in efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, have only bolstered critics of the court.

“Undoubtedly, public trust and confidence in the Supreme Court is in shambles, which jeopardizes our democracy and the Rule of Law upon which it is based,” the House Democrats wrote in their letter to Alito on Tuesday.

“And given that your decisions in Trump and Fischer will profoundly affect the future of a past and potentially future President, and of democracy itself, it is essential that the Court attempt to bolster the public’s trust in the integrity of the Court,” they added.