Home National news More than 77,000 sign petition for Justices Alito and Thomas to recuse in Capitol attack cases

More than 77,000 sign petition for Justices Alito and Thomas to recuse in Capitol attack cases

Following a report from The New York Times that highlighted potential conflicts of interest for the conservative justices, MoveOn launched the petition (photo courtesy of MoveOn).

A petition calling for conservative Supreme Court Justices and noted Donald Trump supporters Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas to recuse themselves from major cases related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack has amassed 77,000 signatures as of May 21. Following a report from The New York Times that highlighted potential conflicts of interest for the conservative justices, MoveOn launched the petition.

The Times reported that an upside-down American flag, a symbol associated with the twice-impeached and four-times indicted Trump’s false claims of election fraud, was displayed outside Alito’s home in January 2021. The flag appeared outside the Alito residence in Alexandria, Virginia, on January 17, just days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Alito told the Times that the flag was “briefly placed” there by his wife during a disagreement with neighbors.

The revelation has again raised concerns about Alito’s impartiality as the Supreme Court considers two significant cases: one addressing charges against the January 6 rioters and another determining whether Trump can claim immunity from prosecution on election interference charges. Justice Thomas also faces scrutiny for his involvement in cases related to the 2020 election, particularly because his wife, Ginni Thomas, contacted Trump officials and lawmakers, urging them to overturn the election results.

MoveOn’s petition argues that Alito must be held accountable for what they describe as a breach of ethics. “He must recuse himself immediately or be removed by Chief Justice John Roberts, and the Senate Judiciary Committee must swiftly investigate and take action on conflicts of interest,” the petition states.

Upside down (or Stop the Steal) flag flies over Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s Alexandria, Va., home in January 2021 just days after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol (photo courtesy of MoveOn).

Rahna Epting, MoveOn’s political action executive director, emphasized the need for immediate action to restore public trust in the Supreme Court. “The only way to begin to restore any trust in the Supreme Court (and to ensure any semblance of a fair hearing on Trump’s baseless immunity claims) is for Justices Alito and Thomas to recuse themselves, or be removed by Chief Justice Roberts,” Epting said.

He criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for failing to address these “conflicts of interest,” contributing to the Supreme Court’s lowest public approval ratings ever. “Justice Roberts’ failure to act, and allow these conflicts to go unchecked, has put the Supreme Court at its lowest public approval ever,”  Epting said, “with the public losing trust in the institution’s integrity and seeing it as the tool of a partisan right-wing agenda that it is.”

The petition also calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate the alleged conflicts of interest and consider impeachment if necessary. “Our country and our democracy deserve better,” Epting said.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also urged Alito to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election and the Capitol attack. “Flying an upside-down American flag, a symbol of the so-called ‘Stop the Steal’ movement, clearly creates the appearance of bias,” Durbin wrote in a statement.

In response to growing public pressure, the Supreme Court adopted a code of ethics in November last year, following reports of undisclosed luxury trips and gifts received by some justices, including Thomas and Alito. However, the code lacks enforcement mechanisms, prompting continued calls for stronger accountability.

“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,” Durbin said.

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