HomePoliticsU.S. Supreme Court's Alito rejects calls for reversal of 2020 election-related cases

U.S. Supreme Court’s Alito rejects calls for reversal of 2020 election-related cases

By Andrew Chung and John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Wednesday rejected requests from Democratic lawmakers to withdraw from two cases – one over Donald Trump’s request for immunity from prosecution and the other over an indictment related to the attack at the Capitol — after reports of controversial flags flown outside his homes.

Alito said in two letters to Democrats in Congress that the flags in question were not flown by him, but by his wife, who he said was exercising her right to freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution. Trump, who wants to regain the presidency this year, was quick to praise Alito’s decision.

The New York Times reported this month about two flags, like the ones some Trump supporters carried during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, being flown at the Houses of Justice. An upside-down American flag flew at his Virginia home in the Washington suburbs, while a flag with the words “Appeal to Heaven” flew at his vacation home in New Jersey.

The two flag incidents “do not meet the conditions for denial” under the code of conduct adopted by the justices last year, Alito wrote in the letters.

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The letters were addressed to US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin and fellow Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as dozens of House Democrats, including Hank Johnson.

Alito told lawmakers that the flag raising was done by his wife, Martha-Ann Alito.

“My wife is a private citizen and she possesses the same First Amendment rights as any other American,” Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, wrote in the letters. “She makes her own decisions, and I have always respected her right to do so.”

Alito said his wife has flown several flags over the years, including patriotic, seasonal and religious flags, as well as flags representing sports teams and celebrating the family’s ancestors.

“My wife loves waving flags,” Alito wrote. “I am not.”


The judges adopted their first formal code of conduct last November after revelations about secret luxury trips and dealings with wealthy benefactors by some of them raised questions about their ethical standards.

“While I am encouraged that Judge Alito saw fit to respond to the two letters requesting his recusal, his unilateral and final decision as judge and jury on our recusal request demonstrates the urgent need for Congress to pass legislation which imposes an obligation on the judges of the Supreme Court.” code of conduct with an enforcement mechanism,” Johnson said in a statement.

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Durbin and Whitehouse’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One of two cases in which Democratic lawmakers have asked Alito not to participate involves Trump’s claim of presidential immunity from prosecution on federal criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The other involves a challenge by a Pennsylvania man to a federal criminal obstruction charge he faces for his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot. Trump faces the same charges in the election-related criminal case brought against him by special counsel Jack Smith.

Both cases have already been submitted to the court and the verdict is expected at the end of June. The court will make its ruling on Thursday.

Trump, the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election, praised Alito in a social media post for rejecting calls for a recall.

“Congratulations to Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court of the United States for showing the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE, and ‘COURAGE’ to refuse to step aside from making a decision on all things related to January 6,” Trump wrote, adding that “all American Judges, Justices and Justice Leaders should have such a GRIT.”

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Alito elaborated in his letters on his wife’s actions in raising the two flags. He reiterated that she had raised the upside-down flag while upset over a dispute with a neighbor, saying the neighbor had used the “vile term” against his wife.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday about some discrepancies, including that the swearing occurred weeks after the inverted flag was taken down.

As for the “Appeal from Heaven” flag, which some conservative activists have come to symbolize hopes for a more Christian-oriented U.S. government, Alito said he was not familiar with it.

“I was not aware of any connection between that historic flag and the ‘Stop the Steal Movement,’ and neither was my wife,” Alito wrote, referring to Trump’s false claims that the 2020 US election was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung and John Kruzel; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)

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