Justice Samuel Alito rejects call to skip Trump cases amid flags row

Home US & World Justice Samuel Alito rejects call to skip Trump cases amid flags row
Justice Samuel Alito rejects call to skip Trump cases amid flags row

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has rejected political pressure to remove himself from crucial election-year cases after a controversy over flags outside his homes.

Justice Alito, a conservative, said in a letter to Democratic senators that the banners in question had been flown by his wife.

An upside-down US flag and a pine tree, or ‘Appeal to Heaven’, flag were pictured outside his home in suburban Virginia and a holiday home in New Jersey.

Justice Alito said the matter did not affect his impartiality in cases involving Donald Trump and Capitol rioters.

“My wife is fond of flying flags,” he wrote in a letter to two senators who asked him to remove himself from key cases. “I am not.”

Justice Alito said the upside-down US flag, which is used to signify distress, was raised by his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, after a dispute with neighbours in January 2021 – shortly after Trump supporters rioted in the US Capitol.

“As I have stated publicly, I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag,” Justice Alito wrote.

“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.”

The New York Times, which first reported on the upside-down flag, published a blow-by-blow account of the neighbourhood dispute on Tuesday.

According to the paper, a local couple put signs outside their home with messages including “Trump Is a Fascist” and “You Are Complicit” and another about Mr Trump that included a profanity.

The couple and the Alitos exchanged words several times. Justice Alito told Fox News that he and his wife were on a neighbourhood walk when a male outside the home with the Trump signs directed an obscene epithet at them.

At one point police were contacted, the newspaper said, but no crime was recorded and no arrests made.

Justice Alito said his wife “was greatly distressed at the time due, in large part, to a very nasty neighborhood dispute in which I had no involvement”.

The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag was seen outside the Alito holiday home more than two years later, in 2023. The Supreme Court justice said it was one of many historical, themed and sport team flags that his wife put up outside the house.

After the flag stories emerged, Senators Richard Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, both Democrats, wrote to Justice Alito to ask him to remove himself from key cases that the US Supreme Court is set to rule on.

The cases include a crucial ruling on whether Mr Trump has immunity from prosecution, and whether criminal charges of obstructing an official proceeding were properly used in Capitol riot cases.

The senators said that the justice had “created reasonable doubt about his impartiality” and that “his recusal in these matters is both necessary and required”.

But in his response, Justice Alito – who was appointed in 2006 by Republican President George W Bush – said the two incidents did “not meet the applicable standard for recusal”.

A clause in the US constitution says a judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The decision is up to Supreme Court justices themselves to make.

Justice Alito is not the first jurist to refuse to recuse himself from a Trump-related case amid accusations of bias linked to the alleged partisanship of a relative.

New York Justice Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the former president’s ongoing hush-money trial, rejected calls to step aside over his daughter’s work as a Democratic political consultant.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.