Chief Justice John Roberts won't meet with Democrats about flag controversy

 May 31, 2024

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse made headlines last week when they sought a meeting with Chief Justice John Roberts.

Yet in a devastating move, the chief of America's highest judicial body responded by smacking that request down. 

Senators warn of an "ethics crisis" on Supreme Court

As NBC News reported, Durbin and Whitehouse wished to speak with Roberts "as soon as possible" about what they perceive to be the Supreme Court's "ethics crisis."

The two Democratic lawmakers further called on Roberts to "adopt an enforceable code of conduct for justices" and expressed "reasonable doubt" over Justice Samuel Alito's ability to rule impartially.

Alito has recently become a focus of controversy after The New York Times reported that an upside-down flag was flown outside his home in 2021, something the justice later said was put up by his wife in response to insults from neighbors.

What's more, the Times also reported that another flag associated with the American Revolution appeared at his summer home in New Jersey.

Roberts backs Alito

Known as the "Appeal to Heaven" flag, it was carried by American patriots during the Revolutionary War and has since been embraced by some conservatives.

Those revelations brought denunciations from many Democrats, including Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, with Breitbart reporting in May that he called on Alito to recuse himself from any cases involving former President Donald Trump or the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

Yet despite the outrage, The Daily Caller noted that Roberts cited tradition in rebuffing Durbin and Whitehouse while also voicing support for Alito.

"It is my understanding that Justice Alito has sent you a letter addressing this issue," the chief justice wrote in a letter on Thursday.

Alito: Flag controversy not grounds for recusal

Indeed, The Daily Caller reported that Alito had sent a letter of his own the day earlier in which he dismissed any notion of recusal.

"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 this event does not meet the applicable standard for recusal," he wrote of the flag controversy.

The George W. Bush appointee then went on to insist that he is "therefore duty-bound to reject your recusal request."

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