Here is some of the legal news making the headlines this week:

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected a demand that he recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election and January 6.

  • Alito has faced criticism after New York Times reports revealed that controversial flags connected to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and the “Stop the Steal” movement to overturn the results of the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump were flown in front of Alito’s homes in 2021 and 2023.
  • Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), wrote a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts requesting that Alito recuse from matters related to the 2020 election and January 6, including the case currently before the justices in which Trump is attempting to invoke immunity from prosecution. Durbin wrote, “By displaying or permitting the display of prominent symbols of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign outside his homes, Justice Alito clearly created an appearance of impropriety.” 
  • In response, Alito wrote that he would not recuse because the flag-flying incidents “do not meet the conditions for recusal.” Alito also defended his wife, whom he blames for flying the flags, writing that she flew the flag in 2021 because “she was greatly distressed at the time due, in large part, to a very nasty neighborhood dispute.” Alito continued, “I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag. I was not even aware of the upside-down flag until it was called to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused…there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.” 

A federal judge denied special counsel Jack Smith’s request that she impose a gag order against Trump in his classified documents prosecution in Florida.

  • Last week, special counsel Jack Smith asked Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida to impose a gag order against Trump after he claimed that President Joe Biden authorized FBI agents to assassinate him when they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022. In a recent Trump campaign fundraising email, Trump wrote, “They were authorized to shoot me…You know they’re just itching to do the unthinkable…Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”
  • In his petition, Smith asked the judge to bar Trump from making public statements that “pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents.” Smith wrote that Trump’s false statements “create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents—falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him—and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment.”
  • Cannon, a Trump appointee to the bench, said she was denying Smith’s request because he failed to confer with Trump’s legal team over his demands. Cannon wrote, “The Court finds the Special Counsel’s pro forma ‘conferral’ to be wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy. It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise.”

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