Justice Alito’s Refusal to Recuse Is A Threat

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO'S refusal to recuse himself from cases relating to former President Donald Trump and the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack is deeply troubling, indicative of the right-wing bloc of justices' continued problems with a basic understanding of ethics and proof-positive of the need for more regulation and real changes at the High Court.

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The flags flown over two of Alito’s residences over the past few years — an upside-down U.S. flag that flew just days after the deadly Capitol riot and Trump's second impeachment; and an "Appeal to Heaven" flag that flew as recently as last summer outside his vacation home — signal support for Trump and Christian nationalism, raising serious questions about the associate justice's impartiality.

Alito’s defense that “My wife is fond of flying flags — I am not,” fails to address the core issue here: the standard that applies (or is supposed to apply) is that "a justice should disqualify himself or herself" when their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

Reasonably speaking, Alito appears to harbor biases that would make him an improper figure to rule on these cases. Indeed, he offers no proof that these were even his wife's flags at all, other than his own saying so, which should cause any reasonable person to still question whether he's telling the whole story or not.

But unreasonably, the Court's rules allow him to decide for himself whether he's fit to hear cases still or not — a completely backward and, crooked and dishonest way of how things like this should be handled. 

By refusing to step aside, Alito shows that he doesn't think the standards he's supposed to abide by matters — and without an enforcement mechanism of the rules he's supposed to follow, he'll be free to do whatever he wants until his retirement, without consequence or reprisal, in this situation and future ones, resuming a disastrous precedent that shouldn't be allowed to stand.

Justice Alito’s actions are more than a misjudgment or a small error on his part; they are a direct challenge to the ethical standards that the Supreme Court must uphold, and a dismantling of a once-revered institution in this country. 

For the sake of preserving public trust in the judicial system, Alito must recuse from any cases related to Trump and the January 6 insurrection. The Court must make changes to ensure justices cannot be the regulators of their own ethical miscues. And failing that happening, Congress must create new standards and rules for them.