Political flags flown at Supreme Court Justice Alito's properties brew controversy

'Appeal to Heaven' and upside-down American flag appeared on properties owned by Samuel Alito, reports say

Associate Justice Samuel Alito of the US Supreme Court. AP
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Two flags related to far-right communities were flown on properties belonging to US Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito shortly after former president Donald Trump's electoral loss in 2020, in an apparent breach of the court's judicial ethics code, according to reports.

The revelations have reignited Democratic calls for Mr Alito to resign from the nation's top court, or recuse himself from cases related to Mr Trump.

The New York Times reported that a flag displaying the phrase “Appeal to Heaven” was spotted outside Mr Alito's holiday home in New Jersey at least twice in 2023, citing photographs and interviews with neighbours.

The provocative flag can also be seen on Google Street View imagery taken in August.

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag was carried by some Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol during the January 6, 2021, insurrection. The flag has been used by conservative activists to represent aims to bring Christianity into the US government.

It was also reported that an upside-down American flag had been seen hanging at Mr Alito's home in Virginia days after the Capitol attack and after President Joe Biden's inauguration.

The upside-down flag has acted as a symbol of protest by many groups, including Trump supporters.

It is typically used as a distress call for US armed forces.

In a statement to the Times, Mr Alito said he was not involved “whatsoever” with the upside-down flag and blamed it on his wife, who flew it “in response to a neighbour's use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs”.

The Supreme Court has warned its own staff not to “engage in partisan political activity”, which includes “displaying signs or bumper stickers” that may affect the “dignity or impartiality of the court”, according to a memo and the court's internal rule book.

The top Democrat in the US House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, wrote in a social media post on Thursday that “the American people deserve better than an insurrectionist sympathiser on the Supreme Court”.

Justices are currently reviewing Mr Trump's claim of presidential immunity from prosecution after he was hit with federal criminal charges related to attempting to subvert the 2020 election results.

“For the good of our country and the court, Justice Alito must recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection,” Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

Updated: May 23, 2024, 7:09 PM