Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin Calls On Samuel Alito To Recuse From Jan. 6 Cases

Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, on Friday called on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection over the display of an upside-down U.S. flag at the conservative justice’s home shortly after the attack on Congress occurred.

“Flying an upside-down American flag — a symbol of the so-called ‘Stop the Steal’ movement — clearly creates the appearance of bias,” Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

“The Court is in an ethical crisis of its own making, and Justice Alito and the rest of the Court should be doing everything in their power to regain public trust,” the senator added, urging Congress to pass ethics legislation to address the court’s practices.

Neighbors of Alito spotted the upside-down flag flying at the justice’s home on Jan. 17, 2021, according to The New York Times. Supporters of Trump’s stolen election conspiracy theory also began displaying an upside-down flag ― a symbol of protest or severe distress ― after he lost to President Joe Biden in 2020.

The conservative justice admitted it in a statement to the Times but said it was his wife’s doing in response to a neighbor’s “use of objectionable and personally insulting language” on yard signs. On Friday, he told Fox News anchor Shannon Bream the flag was put upside down after a heated altercation between his wife and a neighbor who blamed her for the Jan. 6 riot.

Democrats criticized Alito and drew parallels to Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife was engaged in pressuring Arizona lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election results. Thomas also drew criticism for his accepting luxury gifts from wealthy Republican donors for years.

“A judge is supposed to act in a way that enables all parties and lawyers appearing before the Court to believe they will be treated fairly. Alito and Thomas have brazenly destroyed this bedrock principle,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“This is a wild, radical thing for a person in power to do, even if that person is angry at neighbors,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said of the upside-down flag.

But conservative Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended Alito and his wife.

“This is the NYT trying to smear Mrs. Alito and incite another mob to try to intimidate justices, harass them at home, or worse. Shameful!” Cotton said.