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Democratic senators request to meet with Roberts over flags at Alito’s houses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Democratic senators have requested a meeting with Chief Justice John Roberts after reports that two separate flags carried by rioters in the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, had flown outside homes owned by Justice Samuel Alito.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the judiciary panel, wrote to Roberts on Thursday asking for a meeting to discuss Supreme Court ethics and take action to ensure that Alito recuses himself from any case before the court about the January 6 attack or former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

“We request a meeting with you as soon as possible, in your capacity as Chief Justice and President of the Judicial Conference of the United States, to discuss additional steps to address the Supreme Court’s ethics crisis,” Durbin and Whitehouse wrote to Roberts. in a letter published Friday by both offices.

The senators’ letter comes as another conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, has ignored calls to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election. the support of his wife, Ginni Thomas for Trump and how public confidence in the Supreme Court It is at its lowest point in at least 50 years.

The court did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.

The court is considering two major cases related to the attack on the Capitol, including what charges the rioters face and whether Trump has immunity from prosecution from charges of election interference. Alito participates in both cases and has rejected calls of Democrats in the past to abstain from participating on other issues.

The New York Times reported last week that an inverted American flag was seen at Alito’s home outside Washington less than two weeks after the attack on the Capitol. This week the newspaper reported that a “ appeal to heaven ”The flag flew outside the judge’s beach house in New Jersey last summer. Both flags were carried by rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in January 2021, echoing Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

Alito has said that the inverted American flag was raised by his wife amid a dispute with neighbors, and that he had no part in it. He and the court declined to respond to requests for comment on how the “Appeal to Heaven” flag came to be flown and what he intended to express.

Judicial codes of ethics focus on the need for judges to be independent, avoiding political statements or opinions on matters they may have to decide. The Supreme Court had long been without its own ethical codebut adopted one in November 2023 due to criticism sustained by Undisclosed trips and gifts from wealthy benefactors. to some magistrates.

However, the code lacks means to enforce it and the judicial panel approved legislation last year that would set stricter standards. But Republicans have staunchly opposed any attempt to tell the court what to do.

Durbin and Whitehouse said they will continue to lobby the court. But the call for a meeting is a new approach after Roberts. refused to testify at a Supreme Court ethics hearing last year.

“Until the Court and Judicial Conference take meaningful steps to address this ongoing ethics crisis, we will continue our efforts to enact legislation to resolve this crisis,” they wrote.

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Associated Press writers Mark Sherman and Lindsey Whitehurst contributed to this report.

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