Justice Samuel Alito Rejects Democrats’ Attempts to Make Him Recuse from Trump Cases After Flag Controversy

Associate Justice Samuel Alito sits during a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washingto
Erin Schaff/New York Times via AP, Pool

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sent a letter to Democrat lawmakers on Wednesday, rejecting their demands for him to recuse himself from ongoing cases related to former President Donald Trump and January 6.

Unable to expand the court with more liberal justices, Democrats have been casting doubt on Justice Alito’s ability to remain impartial after the New York Times published two stories showing an upside-down American flag and an Appeal to Heaven flag displayed in Alito’s front yard. The Times linked the flags to Trump supporters, “Stop the Steal,” and January 6 protesters who have more recently adopted those historic symbols.

“As I have stated publicly, I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag. I was not even aware of the upside- down flag until it was called to my attention,” Alito wrote in his response letter to Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

“As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused. My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly. She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly,” he added.

Alito noted that his wife flew the flag during a “very nasty neighborhood dispute in which I had no involvement.” 

“A house on the street displayed a sign attacking her personally, and a man who was living in the house at the time trailed her all the way down the street and berated her in my presence using foul language, including what I regard as the vilest epithet that can be addressed to a woman,” he added. 

Alito reportedly told Fox News the neighbor called his wife a “c*nt” during one of the exchanges, and pictures obtained by the Times shows the neighbor holding signs that say “Alito was @Jan6,” and “Abort SCOTUS.”

“My wife is a private citizen, and she possesses the same First Amendment, rights as every other American. She makes her own decisions, and I have always respected her right to do so,” Alito wrote. “She has made many sacrifices to accommodate my service on the Supreme Court, including the insult of having to endure numerous, loud, obscene, and personally insulting protests in front of our home that continue to this day and now threaten to escalate.”

Alito continued, noting that he also had no role in flying the “An Appeal to Heaven” flag that flew in the backyard of his vacation home in the summer of 2023.  The flag dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War and is “meant to signify a plea to a higher power for help saving early American colonies from the rule of the King of England,” Forbes reported.

“My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not. My wife was solely responsible for having flagpoles put up at our residence and our vacation home and has flown a wide variety of flags over the years,” he 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,” he continued. “She did not fly it to associate herself with that or any other group, and the use of an old historic flag by a new group does not necessarily drain that flag of all other meanings.”

Alito concluded in his letter that “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 the events “[do] not meet the applicable standard for recusal.” 

“I am therefore duty-bound to reject your recusal request,” he wrote. 

Alito’s letter came in response to a letter Durbin and Whitehouse sent to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts last week citing the Times reports and claiming Alito has “actively engaged in political activity, failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.”

“He also created reasonable doubt about his impartiality and his ability to fairly discharge his duties in cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol. His recusal in these matters is both necessary and required,” the Democrats claimed in their letter.

The pressure campaign is notably the latest from left-leaning media outlets and Democrats, who have also targeted conservative Justice Clarence Thomas and similarly demanded his recusal from politically expedient cases.

Mark Paoletta, a senior fellow at Center for Renewing America who has been involved in several Supreme Court confirmations and represented Justice Thomas’s wife Ginni Thomas in the House Select January 6th Committee investigation, praised Alito’s letter in a comment to Breitbart News.

“God Bless Justice Sam Alito.  His letter is a total demolition of the Democrats’ unhinged and baseless attack.  What’s disappointing is that there are not more legal groups out there defending Justice Alito, Justice Thomas and the other justices and the Supreme Court against these partisan attacks,” said Paoletta, who was also a top lawyer for the Trump White House.

“Where is the American Bar Association? Where is the Federalist Society?  They should be defending the integrity and independence of the Court. They are missing in action,” he continued. “It’s shameful. It’s time to suit up and defend the Court.”

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.


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