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Dems Attack Supreme Court Judge

Senate Democrats are expressing significant concern over a recent revelation involving Justice Samuel Alito, where an “Appeal to Heaven” flag—a symbol adopted by Jan. 6 protesters—was displayed at his beach house. They argue that this is yet another sign of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court that they believe is increasingly “out of control” and pursuing a “partisan” agenda.

The flag incident has intensified Democratic concerns that Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas are compromising judicial decorum and ethics, allowing personal views and friendships to overshadow their duty to avoid any appearance of bias or political favoritism. “We have an out-of-control Supreme Court majority,” stated Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), echoing sentiments shared by other Democrats.

This controversy follows reports from ProPublica last year, revealing that both Alito and Thomas accepted significant gifts from wealthy conservatives with business before the Supreme Court or who stood to benefit from its decisions. “Frustration with the court’s perceived illegitimacy is extremely high,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who noted that this issue rarely surfaced two decades ago when the court was seen as apolitical.

A report by The New York Times detailed that a white flag with a green pine tree, a symbol linked to Christian-minded governance, was flown outside Alito’s vacation home in 2023. This, coupled with a prior incident where an upside-down American flag—a “Stop the Steal” movement symbol—was displayed at his home post-2020 election, has alarmed Democrats. They are now questioning Alito’s impartiality, especially as the Supreme Court considers a decision on whether former President Trump should be immune from federal prosecution.

Sen. Merkley pointed out that such incidents are fueling calls for Supreme Court reform, including potential expansion or rotation of justices to maintain ideological balance. He also highlighted the court’s failure to adopt a binding ethics code despite reports of lavish gifts accepted by Alito and Thomas. “Is there increasing political momentum towards reforming the court? Absolutely yes,” he asserted.

News of the “Appeal to Heaven” flag coincided with a Supreme Court ruling allowing South Carolina to retain a congressional map deemed an unconstitutional racial gerrymander by a lower court. Alito told The Times that his wife had hoisted the inverted American flag during a dispute with a neighbor displaying an anti-Trump sign. However, the new flag revelation has led Democrats to believe the earlier incident was not isolated. “This is not a chance indiscretion. This is a conscious decision by the Alito family to advertise their political feelings,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), calling for Alito to recuse himself from cases involving the Trump administration.

Durbin and other Democrats are advocating for the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, which would require justices to adopt a binding code of conduct and establish a mechanism to investigate violations. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) described the latest flag incident as “just terrible,” emphasizing that Alito should recuse himself to maintain judicial impartiality.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) expressed concern over the appearance of bias and the potential establishment of religiosity in government. “Not only is he comfortable with religion in government, he’s comfortable with a very specific kind of religiosity. It’s worrisome,” Schatz said, criticizing Alito for behaving like a partisan.

Even some Senate Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), criticized the display of an upside-down American flag, though Graham was less disturbed by the historical “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) defended Alito, urging Democrats to stop attacking the Supreme Court and focus on protecting justices from harm. “We need to leave the Supreme Court alone,” McConnell stated, dismissing the flag controversy as part of ongoing attacks on the judiciary.

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