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Rep. Raskin Suggests DOJ Can Pressure Supreme Court Justices To Recuse In Jan. 6 Cases

James King, MPA
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Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has argued that the Department of Justice could force the recusals of Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, despite Alito’s recent rejection of calls to step aside. Raskin’s suggestion comes after a failed smear campaign against Alito initiated by The New York Times over a neighborly dispute and an American flag at the justice’s house.

In a Wednesday op-ed for the Times, Raskin proposed that the DOJ, including the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, an appointed U.S. special counsel and the solicitor general, can petition the other seven justices to require Alito and Thomas to recuse themselves “not as a matter of grace but as a matter of law.” He suggested that the Biden administration and Attorney General Merrick Garland can invoke the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution and the federal statute mandating judicial disqualification for questionable impartiality.

Raskin’s call for action follows Democratic lawmakers’ demands that Alito apologize for supposedly “disrespecting the American flag and sympathizing with right-wing violent insurrectionists.” However, Alito rejected these calls in a letter to Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin (Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), stating that a reasonable person not motivated by political considerations would conclude that the event does not meet the applicable standard for recusal.


The Maryland Democrat insinuated that the concerns manufactured in the pages of the Times amounted to reasonable doubts about Alito’s impartiality, which in lesser courts might ordinarily warrant recusal. He also likened Supreme Court justices to umpires, suggesting that an umpire would not be allowed to call balls and strikes in a World Series game after their spouse tried to overturn the official score of a prior game to benefit the losing team.