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Alito tells Democrats he will not step down from Trump cases

By Ehren Wynder
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told Congressional Democrats that his wife was responsible for the two questionable flags seen on his property. File Photo by Eric Lee/UPI
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told Congressional Democrats that his wife was responsible for the two questionable flags seen on his property. File Photo by Eric Lee/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told lawmakers Wednesday he will not recuse himself from cases involving former President Donald Trump over two controversial flags flown on his property.

In letters to House and Senate Democrats, Alito said he had nothing to do with flying the flags, which Democrats associated with far-right Trump supporters, nor do the incidents merit recusal.

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"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," Alito wrote. "I am therefore duty-bound to reject your recusal request."

The Supreme Court is currently weighing Trump's claim of presidential immunity to charges accusing him of interfering in the 2020 election.

The high court also is hearing an appeal from a Jan. 6 rioter who argued an obstruction charge filed against him only applies to people destroying evidence, not storming a government building.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., earlier this month called for Alito to "immediately" recuse himself from the cases after an upside-down American flag was seen in front of the justice's Virginia home days after the Jan. 6 attack.

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Separately, an "Appeal to Heaven" flag was seen flying outside of the Alitos' vacation home in New Jersey.

Democrats argued the incidents created an appearance of bias that require Alito to recuse himself from all cases involving Trump.

The upside-down flag has long been used as an SOS signal but has been appropriated in recent years by people on the right who believe Biden stole the election from Trump.

Alito said in a statement he had "no involvement whatsoever" in flying the upside-down flag, and that his wife Martha-Ann Alito did so over an argument with a neighbor.

The "Appeal to Heaven" flag dates to the Revolutionary War but also has become a symbol for Trump supporters.

Alito again said his wife was responsible for displaying the flag and that she did not do so to "associate herself with that or any other group."

"My wife is a private citizen, and she possesses the same First Amendment rights as every other American," Alito wrote on Wednesday, noting his wife has in the past flown a variety of flags, including patriotic, religious, college and sports flags.

"My wife is fond of flying flags," Alito wrote. "I am not."

Durbin and subcommittee head Sheldon Whitehouse last week urged Chief Justice John Roberts to take steps to ensure Alito recuses himself from the cases.

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