Alito Won't Be Recusing Himself

Justice says he couldn't do anything about it when his wife flew the upside-down flag
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2024 4:51 PM CDT
Alito Rejects Calls to Sit Out Jan. 6 Cases
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, pay their respects at the casket of Rev. Billy Graham at the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Saying he lacks legal authority to lower flags flying at his Virginia house, Justice Samuel Alito announced Wednesday that he won't recuse himself from two Supreme Court cases connected to the attack on the Capitol. Flags flown at his house in Arlington and vacation house in New Jersey have been displayed by the Stop the Steal movement that claims President Biden's 2020 presidential victory was illegitimate. Alito's answer was contained in letters to Democrats in Congress who had called for him to recuse himself from the cases in light of the apparent political statements, the New York Times reports.

"My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not," Alito wrote. "She was solely responsible for having flagpoles put up at our residence and our vacation home and has flown a wide variety of flags over the years." The justice said that he didn't realize an American flag was hanging upside down in Arlington until it was pointed out to him, and that he then ran into a wall with Martha-Ann Alito. "As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused," he added. The justice said that they own the house jointly, giving her the right to use it as she wishes, and that there was nothing more he could do. The flap does not meet the standard for recusal, he wrote.

Donald Trump posted his endorsement of Alito's decision while awaiting the jury's verdict in his criminal trial in New York, per the AP. He praised Alito for "showing the intelligence, courage, and guts" to reject recusal. Another flag tied to the election-rejecting movement flew at the couple's beach house, and Alito wrote that neither he nor his wife knew it carried any such meaning.

(More Samuel A. Alito stories.)

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