Top Dems Request Meeting With Chief Justice Roberts to Discuss Alito

Two top Democratic senators have sent a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts requesting to meet with him “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 letter — sent by 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 — was prompted by recent reports that Justice Samuel Alito has flown at least two flags associated with the 2020 pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” movement outside his homes. 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.

On Tuesday, a group of 40 House Democrats sent a separate letter to Alito calling for the justice to recuse himself from the cases.

In their plea to Roberts, Durbin and Whitehouse wrote that “by displaying or permitting the display of prominent symbols of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign outside his homes, 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 (hereinafter Code of Conduct) that all nine justices adopted last year. He also created reasonable doubt as to his impartiality in certain proceedings, thereby requiring his disqualification in those proceedings as established by the Code of Conduct and federal law.”

The senators also noted that the controversy surrounding Alito was not the only recent instance of “a Supreme Court justice’s failure to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.” The pair pointed to concerns about Justice Clarence Thomas’ participation in Jan. 6 cases, given that his wife Virginia Thomas was involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Durbin and Whitehouse also raised reports of Justice Thomas’ controversial relationships with prominent conservative billionaire donors.

Alongside their request for immediate action from Roberts, the senators renewed a call for lawmakers in Congress to support the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act. The legislation would “require Supreme Court justices to adopt a code of conduct, create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws, improve disclosure and transparency when a justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court, and require justices to explain their recusal decisions to the public.”

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