Chief Justice Roberts says Justice Alito will decide whether to recuse himself in Trump cases

 June 1, 2024

Eyebrows were raised last month when Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse demanded a meeting with Chief Justice John Roberts.

While the pair wanted to speak to Roberts about Justice Samuel Alito, the chief justice shut their demand down. 

Senators say there is "reasonable doubt" that Alito can be impartial

According to NBC News, the senators complained that "reasonable doubt" exists over whether Alito can remain impartial in cases concerning former President Donald Trump and the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

The Democratic lawmakers further alleged that America's highest judicial body is experiencing an "ethics crisis" while demanding that it "adopt an enforceable code of conduct for justices."

Those allegations are based on a New York Times report that an upside-down flag was flown outside Alito home in 2021, something the justice later said was put up by his wife.

Another Times article noted that a flag associated with the American Revolution was also flown outside Alito's summer home in New Jersey.

Appeal to Heaven flag used by patriots in Revolutionary War

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

The flag revelations prompted calls from Democrats like Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal for Alito to recuse himself from Trump-related cases.

"I am sad, really sad and shocked to say that Justice Alito is rapidly showing himself to be unfit to serve on the United States Supreme Court," Breitbart quoted Blumenthal as telling MSNBC in May.

"At a minimum he has to recuse himself from these cases coming before the court that will determine whether or not Trump is held accountable," he added.

Roberts comes to Alito's defense

However, the Times reported that Roberts responded to Durbin and Whitehouse on Thursday in which he dismissed the claim that Alito needs to recuse himself.

"Members of the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the practice we have followed for 235 years pursuant to which individual justices decide recusal issues," the chief justice wrote.

In addition to defending Alito, Roberts also declined the Democratic lawmaker's demand that he schedule a meeting with them.

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