Report says an American flag was turned upside down at Justice Alito’s home after Trump’s “Stop the Steal” statements.

WASHINGTON — An inverted American flag, a symbol associated with former President Donald Trump’s flag False claims The New York Times reported that in January 2021, it was posted outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

A photo obtained and published by the newspaper on Thursday shows the flag flying on Jan. 17, 2021, days after Republican supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2021, to prevent the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Dozens of pro-Trump rioters carried similarly upside-down flags and chanted slogans such as “Stop the Steal.”

The report could raise concerns about Alito’s impartiality as the court considers two major cases related to the attack on the Capitol, including charges against the rioters and whether Trump has criminal immunity on election interference charges. The judge said his wife had placed the flag there as a result of a dispute with her neighbors.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Friday called on Alito to recuse himself from matters related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“Flowing an upside-down American flag – a symbol of the so-called Stop the Steal movement – ​​clearly creates an appearance of bias,” Durbin said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, in a social media post, called the report an attempt to “intimidate judges.”

The ruling comes as another conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, ignored calls to recuse himself from 2020 election cases. support from his wife, Ginni Thomas for Trump and as public confidence in the Supreme Court is the lowest in at least 50 years. Judicial experts said the flag clearly violates ethical rules designed to avoid even the appearance of bias.

While the flag was flown, the court was still considering whether to take up the cases related to the 2020 election. He ultimately rejected it over the dissent of three conservative justices, including Alito, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush. He wrote that the court’s consideration of the cases would have no impact on the 2020 election but would “provide invaluable guidance on future elections.”

Alito acknowledged the presence of the flag at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, but stated that he was “in no way involved in displaying the flag.”

“It was briefly posted by Ms. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of inappropriate and personally offensive language on the signs,” Alito said in a statement emailed to the newspaper.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Martha-Ann Alito had an argument with another family in the neighborhood over an anti-Trump sign on their lawn, and neighbors also interpreted the flag as a political statement. It is unclear how long the flag was up.

Codes of judicial ethics focus on the need to ensure the independence of judges, avoiding political statements or opinions on matters they might be called upon to decide. The Supreme Court has long been deprived of its own office ethical codexbut adopted one in November 2023 in the face of continued criticism undisclosed trips and gifts from wealthy benefactors some judges. However, the code lacks enforcement measures.

Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia, told the newspaper that flying the flag upside down “is the equivalent of putting a ‘Stop the Steal’ sign in your yard, which is a problem when making decisions about case choices.”

Even if his spouse or someone else put it in the house, “he shouldn’t have it in his yard as a message to the world,” she said.

The Supreme Court warned its staff against public displays indicating partisan beliefs, the newspaper reported. The court did not answer questions about whether these rules apply to judges.

The United States Flag Code states that the American flag may not be flown upside down “except as a signal of grave danger in the event of extreme danger to life or property.” For decades, it has been used as a symbol of protest on both the left and right on a variety of issues. It became a symbol of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign as he spread false claims that the election he lost to Biden was stolen.

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