Report: Justice Alito’s home flew flag in distress after Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’ allegations

According to a report by The New York Times on Thursday, an American flag displayed upside-down, which is a symbol often linked to former President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of election fraud, was seen outside the residence of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in January 2021.

A photo published by the newspaper reveals the flag soaring high on January 17, 2021, just days after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by Trump supporters on January 6, 2021. Many of the rioters were seen brandishing inverted flags and vociferating slogans like “Stop the Steal.”

The report may raise concerns about Alito’s impartiality as the court deliberates on two significant cases concerning the attack. These cases involve the charges faced by the rioters and the question of whether Trump has immunity from prosecution for election interference charges.

As public trust in the Supreme Court reaches its lowest point in at least 50 years, the controversy continues to surround conservative justice Clarence Thomas. Despite calls for recusal from cases related to the 2020 election, Thomas remains involved, despite his wife Ginni Thomas’ vocal support for Trump. Judicial experts argue that this situation violates ethics rules put in place to prevent any appearance of bias.

While the flag was flying, the court was in the process of deciding whether to hear cases related to the 2020 election. Eventually, the court dismissed these cases, with three conservative justices, including Alito, dissenting. Alito, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, emphasized that the court’s examination of these cases would not affect the outcome of the 2020 election but would offer essential guidance for future elections.

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Justice Alito admitted that there was indeed a flag at his residence in Alexandria, Virginia, but clarified that it was his wife who had put it there.

According to an email statement to the newspaper, Alito clarified that he had no involvement in flying the flag. He explained that the flag was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito as a response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.

Martha-Ann Alito had been engaged in a disagreement with another family in the neighborhood regarding an anti-Trump sign displayed on their lawn, according to the Times. Additionally, neighbors perceived the flag as a political statement. The duration for which the flag was flown remains uncertain.

Judicial ethics codes prioritize the independence of judges and discourage them from making political statements or expressing opinions on issues they may be tasked with deciding. The Supreme Court, in response to ongoing criticism surrounding undisclosed trips and gifts from affluent supporters to certain justices, finally implemented its own code of ethics in November 2023. Nevertheless, the code currently lacks a mechanism for enforcement.

According to Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia, displaying the flag upside down is comparable to placing a “Stop the Steal” sign in your yard, which raises concerns if you are presiding over election-related cases.

According to her, regardless of whether it was put there by his spouse or another resident of the house, it’s inappropriate for him to display it in his yard as a message to the world.

According to the newspaper, the Supreme Court has cautioned its own employees against publicly expressing partisan preferences. However, the court has not provided any clarification regarding whether these guidelines also extend to the justices themselves.

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According to the U.S. Flag Code, the American flag should not be flown upside down, unless it is used as a distress signal in cases of severe danger to life or property. Throughout the years, it has been utilized as a form of protest by various groups, both on the left and the right, to express their concerns on a wide range of issues. Most recently, it gained prominence as a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” campaign led by former President Trump, who propagated baseless allegations of election fraud in the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.

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