May 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

NYT: 2nd controversial flag flown on Alito property

Screenshot of an "Appeal to Heaven" flag displayed on Google Maps street view.

A screenshot of a Google Street View taken outside Justice Samuel Alito's property in New Jersey Photo: Google Street View

An "Appeal to Heaven" flag was hung outside Justice Samuel Alito's vacation home as recently as 2023, according to photographs obtained by the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the second symbol reportedly displayed outside an Alito home that has a connection to the Jan. 6 riot.

  • An upside-down American flag, a symbol of the "Stop the Steal" movement, was hung outside the Alito home days after the Jan. 6 attack, the New York Times reported earlier this month.

State of play: The "Appeal to Heaven" flag was reportedly displayed at Alito's New Jersey vacation home in July and September of 2023, per photos obtained by the Times for a story that published Wednesday.

  • The photos are from different dates and it's not clear whether the flag was hung for consecutive days.
  • The white flag dates back to the Revolutionary War and has a green pine tree and the words "Appeal to Heaven" across the top.
  • In recent years the flag has been embraced by Christian nationalists, and it featured prominently in the symbols waved during a Trump rally and subsequent riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
This is the flag
Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images
This is the rally
Crowds arrive for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on the Times report.

Of the upside-down flag, Alito told the Times that he had "no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag."

  • He said it was "briefly placed" by his wife "in response to a neighbor's use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs."

Zoom out: The reports of the flags outside Alito's home come as the nation's highest court grapples with a number of Jan. 6-related cases, including whether former President Trump has absolute immunity.

  • The Supreme Court's eventual ruling on immunity could decide whether Trump ever faces trial in his federal Jan. 6 case.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas has faced similar calls to recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases over his wife Virginia "Ginni" Thomas' involvement in efforts to challenge 2020 election results.
  • The latest report is likely to escalate calls from Democratic lawmakers who have been urging Alito to recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases.

The bottom line: The Supreme Court's ethics code, which was adopted last year following a number of ethics controversies, says that justices should "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities."

Go deeper: Alito faces intense heat from Congress over flag controversy

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