Eyebrows raised over unexplained two-day absence by Justice Samuel Alito

 June 23, 2024

The Supreme Court became the focus of attention last week after it handed down important decisions regarding gun laws and the use of expert testimony in criminal cases.

Yet those rulings were the only reason why America's highest judicial body came under scrutiny, as one of its justices appeared to go missing. 

Supreme Court may need to extend its term

As People magazine pointed out, Justice Samuel Alito was conspicuously absent from the bench on both Thursday and Friday.

The publication noted how Alito's absence is particularly unusual given that early summer is typically the busiest season for Supreme Court justices, with Alito missing the release of a combined nine cases on Thursday and Friday.

No official explanation has yet been given for the justice's whereabouts, and New Republic columnist Talia Jane recently suggested that his absence "poses the possibility that the Supreme Court will have to extend its term into" next month.

If that happens, then Americans may need to wait even longer to hear how the justices ruled on the question of whether or not former President Donald Trump enjoys legal immunity for action he took following the 2020 election.

Critics like University of Michigan Law School professor Leah Litman have alleged that Alito and other conservative justices are attempting to delay Trump's Washington, D.C. criminal case so as to ensure he doesn't face a jury until after the election.

Flags lead to controversy for Alito

Claims like Litman's haven't been the only source of controversy regarding Alito, eyebrows were also raised after The New York Times reported that an upside down flag was flown outside of his house in early 2021.

Although Alito later explained that the flag had been hoisted by his wife, he received further criticism when another Times article stated that a flag associated with the American Revolution was also flown outside his summer home.

Commonly referred to as an "Appeal to Heaven" flag, it was hoisted during the Revolutionary War and is currently flown by some in the conservative movement.

Chief justices comes to Alito's defense

News of the flags led Democrats such as Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal to demand that Alito recuse himself from cases involving Trump or the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

"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.

Yet Chief Justice John Roberts came to Alito's defense, with the Times reporting that he told lawmakers Supreme Court justices decide for themselves when recusal is appropriate.

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