Press Release

Welch Urges Supreme Court Justice Alito’s Recusal from Cases Involving 2020 Election and January 6 Insurrection 

May 23, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, released the following statement following reports of two instances where flags bearing symbols carried by violent rioters on January 6 were flown at properties owned by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito: 

“The call for stronger ethics within the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t new, but it is increasingly necessary after decades of ethical violations that have eroded the public’s trust in this institution. Justice Alito’s apparent embrace of symbols linked to the January 6th insurrection—an attack on our democracy—is the only the most recent example of the highest court’s compromised impartiality.  

“For the sake of the Court’s integrity and credibility, as well as the health of the independent judiciary, Justice Alito should formally recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  

“We must hold the court to a higher moral and ethical standard. Justice Alito’s multiple links to symbols associated with the violent insurrection compromise his ability to be impartial. I sincerely hope my colleagues across the aisle on the Judiciary Committee would agree, but I know the reality is they’re unwilling to join us in our call to hold the Supreme Court to a higher ethical standard.  

“It is painfully clear the Court’s current Code of Conduct has failed. Chief Justice Roberts must lead the Court in immediately adopting a Code of Conduct that establishes clear enforcement mechanisms instead of relying on self-policing—and we’ll keep working to pass legislation to hold the court to a higher ethical standard.” 

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Welch continues to push for transparency and ethics reform at the U.S. Supreme Court. Following the Supreme Court’s adoption of a Code of Conduct in November, Sen. Welch called for further information about the Code, stating that our work is not done until we have assured the American public that there is a transparent and enforceable system in place to prevent future ethical violations. Last year, Sen. Welch spoke on the Senate Floor to highlight the erosion of trust in the integrity of the Supreme Court, and how it hurts the public’s trust in our democracy and the judicial system. 

Senator Welch is a cosponsor of the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023, which the Judiciary Committee advanced this summer with unanimous Democratic support. The legislation requires the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct, establish a mechanism to investigate breaches of that code, recuse themselves when they have conflicts of interest in cases, and disclose gifts and income, among other provisions. 

Senator Welch has a long history of expressing concerns about reports relating to potential ethics violations by Justices of the Supreme Court, including joining 45 of his then-House colleagues in an October 2011 letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging the investigation of outstanding ethical questions surrounding the court.