Alito Refuses to Recuse: ‘My Wife Is Fond of Flying Flags’

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has finally responded to concerns about his ability to remain impartial in cases related to efforts to subvert the 2020 election. His answer is a firm refusal to recuse himself.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Alito has flown at least two flags associated with the 2020 “Stop the Steal” movement, which falsely holds that widespread election fraud had robbed former President Donald Trump of a second term.

“As I have stated publicly, I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag,” Alito wrote of reports and photos showing an upside-down American flag flying outside of his Virginia home after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. “I was not even aware of the upside-down flag until it was called to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused.”

Earlier this week, a report from the Times refuted Alito’s previous claim that his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, only flew the flag after being subjected to targeted harassment by a neighbor. According to the Times, which reviewed text messages and a police call, Alito’s neighbors contend that it was Martha-Ann who instigated the dispute, and at one point even appeared to spit on the couple’s car.

The couple had placed two signs reading “Trump Is a Fascist” and “You Are Complicit” outside of their home following the Jan. 6 riot. They say the signs were not explicitly directed at the Alitos. It was only after the flag was raised and Martha-Ann called the couple “fascists” that insults were traded, a contradiction of Justice Alito’s timeline of events.

Alito also blamed his wife for an “Appeal to Heaven” flag flying outside of the couple’s vacation home. The flag is associated with a militant arm of the Christian nationalist movement and was adopted by many rioters on Jan. 6.

“My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not,” Alito wrote. “I was not familiar with the ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag when my wife flew it. She may have mentioned that it dates back to the American Revolution, and I assumed she was flying it to express a religious and patriotic message. I was not aware of any connection between this historic flag and the ‘Stop the Steal Movement,’ and neither was my wife.”

The Supreme Court is currently deliberating two cases related to the Jan. 6 riot, one that could potentially grant former President Donald Trump immunity from prosecution on alleged crimes related to his role in the Capitol riot, and another that could hinder the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute participants in the Capitol riot.

Last week, Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), majority whip and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), chair of the Judiciary subcommittee on federal courts, sent a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts requesting a meeting “as soon as possible” and urging him to “immediately take appropriate steps to ensure that Justice Alito will recuse himself in any cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol.” The request followed a letter from 40 House Democrats calling for Alito to recuse himself from the cases.

The justice has no plans to do so, and with no clear mechanism to force a recusal, Alito will continue to have a hand in determining what consequences those involved in the effort to subvert the peaceful transfer of power in 2020 can face.

Following Alito’s response on Wednesday, Durbin posted a statement on X. “Justice Alito’s response clearly demonstrates why the Supreme Court needs an enforceable code of conduct,” Durbin wrote in a thread, adding that the Committee is conducting an investigation into “years of ethical lapses by some justices on the Supreme Court” and reviewing the “latest reporting on Justice Alito.”

“Flying the American flag upside down at his home is a signal of defiance, which raises reasonable questions about bias and fairness in cases pending before the Court,” he continued. “I will continue to pursue what the American people are demanding: Accountability, transparency, and an enforceable code of conduct for Supreme Court justices.”

Trump has made his elation over Alito’s decision clear. On Wednesday, while awaiting the verdict in his criminal hush-money trial, the former president wrote a lauding message to the justice on Truth Social. “Congratulations to United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for showing the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE, and “GUTS” to refuse stepping aside from making a decision on anything January 6th related,” he wrote.

“All U.S. Judges, Justices, and Leaders should have such GRIT – Our Country would be far more advanced than its current status as A BADLY FAILING NATION, headed by the Worst President in American History, Crooked Joe Biden!” Trump added.

This article was updated on May 29 at 9:14 p.m. E.T. to include a statement by Senator Dick Durbin.

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