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Lawmakers slam Alito after neighbor disputes flag story

Justice has refused to recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases

By Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News
Published: June 7, 2024, 4:49pm

Democratic lawmakers slammed Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Thursday after a neighbor forcefully disputed the conservative judge’s account of the controversial decision to raise a flag that is often used to signify support for the Jan. 6 attack.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said it is “frustrating” that Alito and other judges on the nation’s highest court can “say things that aren’t true, and there’s no consequence.”

“A reasonable person would expect a Supreme Court justice to tell the truth,” Whitehouse tweeted. “But they seem to have gotten out of that habit.”

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-Manhattan, said the obvious appearance of a conflict of interest by Alito is only sharpened by the factual dispute raised by the neighbor.

“It’s completely absurd to take at face value what a justice says about their own recusal decision,” Goldman said. “They cannot be the judge and jury of their own case.”

On Tuesday, Goldman introduced a bill in the House that would create an independent oversight body to investigate and determine whether Supreme Court judges have impermissible conflicts of interest.

The lawmakers spoke out hours after Alito’s ex-neighbor effectively rebutted the judge’s version of the flag controversy.

Emily Baden said the upside-down American flag was hoisted at a home owned by Alito and his wife in late January 2021, contradicting his claim in a letter to Congress that his wife put it up in response to an ugly neighborhood confrontation with her that took place in February.

“At best, he’s mistaken, but at worst, he’s just outright lying,” Baden told CNN late Wednesday. “Their flag went up two or three weeks before that.”

Baden, who lived down the street from Alito and his wife in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va., admitted using the c-word at Martha Ann Alito during a shouting match on Feb. 15, 2021.

But she blames the Alitos for seeking to intimidate her into taking down her own signs slamming former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 attack.

“She approached us, started using our full names, which to me felt like a threat,” Baden said. “We don’t know you. You don’t know us. How do you know our names? How dare you?”

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Baden notes that a police report confirms the date of the incident. Accounts by other neighbors and a contemporary account from a Washington Post reporter says the flag was already flying at the Alitos’ home.

Alito has refused to recuse himself from cases involving Trump’s effort to overturn his loss in the 2020 election and rejects the suggestion that the flag gives an impression that he could be biased in favor of Trump.

In a letter to congressional Democrats including Whitehouse and Goldman, Alito claimed that his wife put up the flag only after the dispute and took it down a few days afterward.

Despite denying that the flag indicated any bias, Alito said in the letter to Congress that he asked his wife to take down the flag as soon as he became aware of it.

The judge also blames his wife for raising a flag associated with right-wing Christian nationalists at their home on the Jersey Shore.

The brouhaha has raised new questions about the lack of accountability or binding ethical guidelines on the nation’s highest court.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has effectively sided with Alito, saying a recent voluntary ethics agreement leaves it up to individual judges to determine whether to recuse themselves from cases.

Alito has already participated in several major Jan. 6-related cases, including the highly anticipated decision on Trump’s demand for blanket presidential immunity that has stalled special counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 case. A ruling on that case is due this month.

Fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has also refused to step aside from Trump-related cases even though his wife, Ginny, was involved in the effort to get Trump to cling to power after losing to President Joe Biden.

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