Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Sen. Dick Durbin says Justice Alito should recuse in Trump cases because of upside-down flag

By 37ci3 May17,2024

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito should recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election, days after a new report said an upside-down American flag was flown outside his home. January 6, 2021, before the attack on the Capitol and the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Some Trump supporters who participated in the Jan. 6 riots, fueled by unfounded claims that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, appear to have displayed the flag in the same manner during the Jan. 6 attack.

“Flying an upside-down American flag — a symbol of the Stop the Steal movement — creates a blatantly biased image. Justice Alito should immediately recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6 uprising,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Durbin.

The Supreme Court is currently considering two cases that touch on Jan. 6: Trump’s challenge to presidential immunity in the election meddling case, and an appeal by a man on trial for his role on the day a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Decisions should be made by the end of June.

The This was reported by the New York Times on Thursday It said it obtained photos from the period after the 2020 election and conducted interviews with Alito’s neighbors. The photos showed the Times flag flying upside down in front of the house on January 17, 2021, three days before Biden’s inauguration.

The Supreme Court did not respond to multiple requests for comment from NBC News.

The report was the latest in a series of reports raising questions about the ethical standards of the court, which has been frequent targets of Alito and fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas did not recuse himself from the two cases on Jan. 6, despite his wife, conservative activist Virginia “Ginny” Thomas, supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.

According to the US flag code, an upside down US flag is used as a symbol of concern. Swearing in Jason Dolan — who pleaded guilty in 2022 to crimes related to Jan. 6 — also flew an upside-down American flag outside his Florida home in January 2021. The photos were taken outside the Capitol a contestant waves an upside-down flag during a riot show. The Times also cited some Twitter accounts advocating that the flag be reversed as a sign of concern after the 2020 election.

It’s unclear how widely the symbol is otherwise used in the Stop the Steal movement, or whether Alitos knew of a possible connection to Stop the Steal.

The Times said it obtained the photos from neighbors who saw the flag and took photos. Times reports that the staff of the Supreme Court heard about it.

In an emailed statement to the Times, Alito did not deny flying the flag in front of his home upside down and said it was not his decision.

“I had no part in raising the flag,” Alito said. “It was briefly posted by Ms. Alito in response to a neighbor’s posting of objectionable and personally offensive language on yard signs.”

The Times said the interviews show Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann Alito, arguing with neighbors on the same block who put up anti-Trump signs on their lawns.

Fox NewsShannon Bream said Alito told her the disagreement began after a neighbor displayed a “F— Trump” sign on their lawn 50 feet from a school bus stop. According to Bream, Alito said that after his wife relayed it to a neighbor, the neighbor put up a sign blaming Alito’s wife for the riot.

The court heard the neighbor then called his wife vulgar language, including the “c-word,” according to Bream. Afterward, Alito said his wife was upset and hung the flag upside down “for a short time.”

Stephen Gillers, an expert on judicial ethics at the New York University School of Law, said he doubts Alito knew about the upside-down flag’s connection to the Stop the Steal movement.

“While it is difficult to believe Alito’s account of how this happened, it is more credible than the idea that he knowingly chose to subvert the meaning of the flag,” Gillers said.

The the recently adopted code of ethics of the Supreme Court declares that justices should not engage in political activity and should be removed from cases if their impartiality can be questioned. However, the code is self-enforcing only.

Charles Geh, a professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said the likelihood of Alito recusing himself in those cases is “zero or close to zero.”

He added that recent research confirms that the legitimacy of the Supreme Court is declining because “the Court is perceived as being driven by the rule of law rather than ideological agendas.” “It doesn’t help,” Gillers said of Alito’s case.

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By 37ci3

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