Supreme Court

Justice Alito questions possibility of political compromise in secret recording

The conservative justice is also heard agreeing with a woman who says the United States should return “to a place of godliness”

FILE - Justice Samuel Alito joins other members of the Supreme Court as they pose for a new group portrait, Oct. 7, 2022, at the Supreme Court building in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP (File)

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is heard questioning whether compromise between the left and right is possible in a conversation posted on social media Monday. The conservative justice is also heard agreeing with a woman who says the United States should return "to a place of godliness.”

The audio was posted on X by liberal filmmaker Lauren Windsor, a progressive activist who is known to approach prominent Republican figures, pretend to be an ally, and then record them making candid comments. She said it was recorded at the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner last week. NBC has not heard the full recording and has not been able to confirm what edits may have been made to the recordings.

“One side or the other is going to win,” Alito said. “There can be a way of working, a way of living together peacefully, but it’s difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised.”

Windsor then told Alito: “I think that the solution really is like winning the moral argument. Like, people in this country who believe in God have got to keep fighting for that, to return our country to a place of godliness.”

“I agree with you,” Alito responded.

Windsor also spoke with Chief Justice John Roberts, who rejected a similar argument. When Windsor suggested the court should lead the nation on a “Christian” path, Roberts responded, “I don’t know if that’s true.”

Alito and Roberts did not respond to NBC's request for comment.

In a statement to NBC, the Historical Society's COO condemned the recording, calling it "inconsistent with the entire spirit of the evening."

"The Annual Dinner of the Supreme Court Historical Society is an occasion to recognize and support the educational and historical work of the Society over the last year," Martha Meehan-Cohen said. "Society members are allowed to purchase two tickets, one for themselves and one for a guest.  Our policy is to ensure that all attendees, including the justices, are treated with respect.  We condemn the surreptitious recording of justices at the event, which is inconsistent with the entire spirit of the evening.  Attendees are advised that discussion of current cases, cases decided by this Court, or a justice’s jurisprudence is strictly prohibited and may result in forfeiture of membership in the Society. “

Alito has rejected calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and Jan. 6 defendants after stories emerged about controversial flags that flew above his homes.

In letters to members of Congress, Alito said his wife, Martha-Ann, was responsible for flying both an upside-down flag over their home in 2021 and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag at their New Jersey beach house last year. Both flags were like those carried by rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in January 2021 while echoing Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

Roberts declined an invitation to meet with Democratic senators to talk about Supreme Court ethics and the flags that flew outside Alito’s homes.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Windsor said she recorded the conversations with Alito and Roberts because “the Supreme Court is shrouded in secrecy, and they’re refusing to submit to any accountability in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious ethics breaches, I think that it’s justified to take these types of measures.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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