The Leadership Conference Responds to Justice Alito’s “Dismissive and Combative” Refusal to Recuse Himself, Urges Congress To Act

Courts News, Media 05.29.24

Contact: Patrick McNeil, [email protected]

WASHINGTON Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement in response to Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s letter to Senators Durbin and Whitehouse refusing to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 presidential election:

“Alexander Hamilton said our federal courts would be the ‘least dangerous’ branch of government. Justice Samuel Alito, like Justice Clarence Thomas, has called that into question. No one is above the law, including the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The rule of law loses meaning if the public loses trust in its independence and neutrality. The most powerful court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court and its nine justices, carry the responsibility to protect our rights and the republic without fear or favor. Justice Alito’s dismissive and combative letter to Congress on the heels of the public revelations that his property has flown flags widely viewed as symbols of the January 6 insurrection and associated with a far-right creed is shocking.

“The latest actions from Justice Alito demonstrate and compound the escalating ethics crisis at the Court. As the Constitution states, Article III judges serve ‘during good behavior,’ but the behavior we have witnessed from a few of our Supreme Court justices has failed to reach this standard. Our federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, possess incredible power and make critical decisions about our civil and human rights. As advocates, we take that role seriously, and it is vital that the justices do the same. Yet, we have witnessed far too many times how some of our Supreme Court justices fail to treat their powerful roles with the seriousness and ethics that their lifetime positions require. 

“Justice Alito only further demonstrates that he is unable and unwilling to follow basic ethical standards and should recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election. It is unacceptable that he — or anyone at his home — would raise flags associated with anti-democratic and  insurrectionist movements. His behavior clearly calls into question his ability to be impartial, and it accelerates the erosion of trust in the Supreme Court.  

“As several justices have proven, this country needs an enforceable and rigorous code of ethics urgently, and Congress must act. To protect our democracy and create a judiciary that we can trust to provide equal justice, we continue our calls for Congress to pass an enforceable, robust code of conduct for the Supreme Court and other needed recusal and transparency measures, as well as an immediate and comprehensive investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee into Justice Alito’s behavior and other potential violations of federal law and the unenforceable code of conduct adopted by the Supreme Court. 

“Without immediate action by Congress, justices and judges across the country will be emboldened to continue the kind of corrupt behavior for which they have not been held accountable. There is no time left to waste. We must do everything in our power to ensure that our Supreme Court can finally live up to its promise of equal justice under law.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit