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Justice Alito refuses to recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases after flag controversies

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(WASHINGTON) — Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is rejecting Democrats’ calls for his recusal from cases related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and the 2020 election after flags flown at his personal residences sparked controversy.

Alito provided further details of the incidents as he responded to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s request to Chief Justice John Roberts that Alito recuse himself from such proceedings.

The flag-flying incidents, first reported by the New York Times, included an upside-down American flag outside his Virginia home and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his New Jersey beach house — both symbols carried by some rioters on Jan. 6.

Alito told lawmakers in the letter that the incidents were not in any way his doing.

“My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not,” he wrote.

Alito revealed that in the case of the upside-down American flag — reported to have been raised by his wife Martha-Ann Alito during a “nasty neighborhood dispute” — he actually told his wife to take it down and that she refused.

As for the “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his vacation home, Alito said he was not aware of it until recently, and neither he nor his wife were conscious of its connections to the “Stop the Steal Movement.”

“The use of an old historic flag by a new group does not necessarily drain that flag of all other meanings,” he wrote in the letter.

The justice, quoting from the Supreme Court’s Code of Conduct, argued that the facts and circumstances do not meet the bar for recusal and that he will not do so.

“I am confident that 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 the events recounted above do not meet the applicable standard for recusal,” Alito wrote. “I am therefore required to reject your request.”

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