Democrat says Alito acting like ‘street lawyer’ amid flag controversy

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is acting like a “street lawyer” as he faces backlash after hanging two controversial flags at his homes.

“It’s up to each individual justice to judge whether they’ve violated the code of ethics and to recuse themselves in cases where their impartiality may be in question,” Cohen told the hosts of MSNBC’s “The Weekend.” “Alito, I don’t think, is caliber a person to do that.”

“He’s acting more like a street lawyer than a silk stocking lawyer. And that’s what the Supreme Court is supposed to be silk stocking lawyers,” he continued.

Cohen, a member of the Judiciary Committee, introduced a resolution in the House to censure Alito after The New York Times reported there was an upside-down flag flowing outside his house in Virginia shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Another report by the Times found that a white flag with a green pine tree, which has become a symbol of Christian-minded government, flew outside his vacation home in 2023.

Democrats are sounding the alarm for Alito’s potential conflict of interest.

Since the high court is reviewing cases, and expected to make decisions soon, on whether former President Trump is immune from prosecution and Jan. 6 related cases, some Democrats are calling on Alito to recuse himself.

Alito has maintained that he had no involvement in flying the first flag, blaming his wife and a misunderstanding, but has not said anything about the second.

Cohen argued that the flag incident shows a “shameless demonstration” of Alito’s political bias.

“There must be accountability to protect the integrity and impartiality of the High Court. We must protect the Constitutional rights to fair and impartial proceedings,” Cohen said in a statement.

On Friday, several Democratic senators, both sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are seeking to meet with Chief Justice John Roberts over the flag incidents.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) demanded to meet with Roberts as soon as possible so they could talk about the court’s “ethics crisis” and so Roberts would “ensure” that Alito recuses himself.

If that doesn’t work, Cohen said at least Democrats could try to pass a censure resolution “which, at least puts a scarlet letter on Alito, which I think would have some effect on the court’s opinions.” Cohen noted that might be difficult since the resolution would have to get past Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio).

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