Latest News 31-05-2024 09:02 10 Views

Chief Justice Roberts declines invitation to meet with Democratic lawmakers over Justice Alito flag incident

Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday declined an invitation to meet with Democratic senators to discuss the controversy surrounding the flags that flew outside homes owned by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

In a letter on Thursday, Roberts penned his response to Democratic senators, writing that he 'respectfully declines' their invitation to meet to discuss ethics concerns surrounding Alito flying of an upside-down American flag outside his Virginia home, and an 'Appeal to Heaven' flag at his New Jersey vacation home.

'I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting,' Robert wrote in his response to Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and the Judiciary Committee.

'As noted in my letter to Chairman Durbin last April, apart from ceremonial events, only on rare occasions in our Nation's history has a sitting Chief Justice met with legislators, even in a public setting (such as a Committee hearing) with members of both major political parties present,' he said.

Roberts said his attendance at a meeting with Senate Democrats was 'inadvisable' and underscores the importance of separation of power between the Supreme Court and the legislative branch. 

'Separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence counsel against such appearances,' he wrote. 'Moreover, the format proposed — a meeting with leaders of only one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the Court — simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.'

Robert's response came a day after Alito said he won't recuse himself from former President Trump's immunity case or other cases relating to the 2020 presidential election or the Jan. 6 Capitol protests because of the flags, which are like those carried by rioters.

'Flying an upside-down American flag — a symbol of the so-called ‘Stop the Steal’ movement — clearly creates the appearance of bias,' said Durbin in a statement. 

'Justice Alito should recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection, including the question of the former President’s immunity in U.S. v. Donald Trump, which the Supreme Court is currently considering,' he argued.

In Alito's response, he wrote that the two incidents 'do not meet the conditions for recusal.' 

He said of the Virginia incident, 'I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag.'

'I was not even aware of the upside-down flag until it was called to my attention,' Alito continued. 'As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused.' 

Alito said, 'My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly' and she 'therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.'

Alito wrote in his letter that his wife was 'greatly distressed at the time due, in large part, to a very nasty neighborhood dispute in which I had no involvement.'

He told the lawmakers, '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' and 'I am therefore required to reject your request.' 

Alito also said he had 'no involvement in the decision' to fly a flag 'bearing the legend ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ that flew in the backyard of our vacation home in the summer of 2023.' 

'My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not. My wife 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,' said the Supreme Court justice. 

Alito said he was not familiar with the 'Appeal to Heaven' flag when his wife flew it and that 'she may have mentioned that it dates back to the American Revolution, and I assumed she was flying it to express a religious and patriotic message.' 

'She did not fly it to associate herself with that or any other group, and the use of an old historical flag by a new group does not necessarily drain that flag of all other meanings,' Alito concluded. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to Sen. Durbin for comment.

Fox News Digital's Greg Norman and Shannon Bream contributed to this report.


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