Supreme Court Justice’s Letter to Congress May Have Serious Consequences

( – Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s May 29 letter to Congress about not recusing himself from former President Donald Trump’s case despite a photo surfacing of an upside-down flag that was flown at Alito’s home may have serious consequences.

The controversy began in May when a photo taken on Jan. 17, 2021, surfaced that showed an American flag being flown upside down outside Alito’s home. Critics have associated the symbol of an upside-down flag with Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.

After the photo surfaced, Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse requested in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that Alito recuse himself from Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, case involving his claim of presidential immunity that is before the court.

In his May 29 letter, Alito responded to the senators, stating he would not recuse himself as the incident does “not meet the conditions for recusal.” He also added that his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, was responsible for flying the flag, adding that she has the “legal right to use the property as she sees fit.”

A University of Richmond in Virginia law professor, Carl Tobias, previously weighed in on the controversy, stating that the Supreme Court’s ethics guidelines for justices, adopted in November 2023, may not require Alito to recuse himself.

In a June 8 interview, former federal prosecutor Harry Litman claimed Alito’s May 29 letter defending the action may have been an impeachable offense. He noted that in Alito’s letter, he repeated his claim that his wife had flown the upside-down flag as she was in a dispute with a neighbor. However, the neighbor has disputed Alito’s timeline of the events related to the flag. Litman said that if Alito did not tell the truth in his letter, that would be an “exceptionally grave” mistake, which could be an impeachable offense.

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