Photo of upside-down flag at Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s house raises concerns: Report

Written by on May 17, 2024

Alex Wong/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — A photo of an upside-down American flag flying at the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his wife Martha-Ann in January 2021 has been obtained by The New York Times.

The flag was “aloft on Jan. 17, 2021,” according to the NYT report, just days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Since the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021, rioters and affiliated groups have been known to fly the American flag upside-down in protest of the election victory of President Biden — an expression of false claims that he stole the election.

Alito’s chambers has not responded to an ABC News request for comment.

In a statement to The Times, Alito did not dispute the image. He said he had no involvement in its flying, saying the flag was placed by his wife Martha-Ann Alito, who had been offended by a neighbor’s yard signs.

“I had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag,” Justice Alito said in an emailed statement to the NYT. “It was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

The Times reported that the yard signs were anti-Donald Trump.

Legal ethics experts, as cited by The New York Times, say this could possibly violate the spirit of the court’s ethics code as well as the recent pledge by Supreme Court justices to avoid the mere appearance of conflict or impropriety or expression of political opinion. Spouses of justices, however, are not bound by judicial ethics codes.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases regarding the Jan. 6 riots, including whether Trump has immunity for his actions during the riots. The decisions are expected to determine whether the former president can be held accountable for his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

James Sample, a professor and judicial ethics expert at Hofstra Law School, told ABC News that this could present a real headache for the Supreme Court.

“Two scenarios are plausible and neither one of them is attractive: either the flag was trivial pettiness that ought to be beneath the dignity of the Court or it is was intended as meaningful symbolism in which case it is a real problem – especially in the context of Jan. 6 litigation,” Sample said. “Collectively, the scenarios amplify the need for Congress to impose meaningful ethics enforcement on a Court that steadfastly refuses to police itself.”

ABC News has reached out to Martha-Ann Alito for comment.

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