Sen. Durbin demands Justice Alito's recusal from certain cases after report regarding upside-down flag

 May 18, 2024

A favored if typically unsuccessful tactic employed by the left against the conservative Supreme Court justices they dislike is to petulantly demand they recuse themselves from certain cases over perceived ethical conflicts or wrongdoing.

That is exactly what Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) did in response to a report this week that Justice Samuel Alito and his wife flew an American flag upside-down outside their Virginia home in January 2021, according to the Washington Examiner.

The Democratic senator, following the lead of the biased media and leftist activists, attempted to link the inverted U.S. flag, a common symbol of national distress and discontent, to the "Stop the Steal" protest movement that arose among former President Donald Trump's supporters after the disputed 2020 election.

NY Times reports on Alito's upside-down flag display

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that it had obtained photos from neighbors of Justice Alito that showed an upside-down U.S. flag flown outside their home in January 2021, little more than a week after the Capitol riot that briefly disrupted the congressional certification of the 2020 election results had occurred.

The Times asserted a linkage between the inverted flag and Trump's supporters who protested President Joe Biden's election, and quoted several purported judicial ethics experts who claimed that the display likely violated the ethics rules that federal judges are expected to adhere to -- though there were no such binding standards on Supreme Court justices at the time.

"I had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag," Alito explained to the outlet in a statement. "It was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs."

Fox News host Shannon Bream spoke with Alito about the report and further revealed that the jurist's wife had been engaged in an escalating feud with a "very political" liberal neighbor who had repeatedly posted explicit anti-Trump signs in their yard and had accosted them with vulgar language on multiple occasions, which prompted a "distraught" Mrs. Alito to hang their U.S. flag upside-down "for a short time."

Durbin demands Alito's recusal

In response to the article from The Times, Sen. Durbin issued a press release that said, "Flying an upside-down American flag -- a symbol of the so-called 'Stop the Steal' movement -- clearly creates the appearance of bias."

"Justice Alito should recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection, including the question of the former President’s immunity in U.S. v. Donald Trump, which the Supreme Court is currently considering," he demanded.

"The Court is in an ethical crisis of its own making, and Justice Alito and the rest of the Court should be doing everything in their power to regain public trust," Durbin added. "This latest story is further proof that Congress needs to pass the SCERT Act to create an enforceable code of conduct for the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices should be held to the highest ethical standards, not the lowest."

Nothing wrong with flying an inverted U.S. flag

Except, despite the overtly partisan efforts of The Times and Sen. Durbin to link an inverted U.S. flag to the "Stop the Steal" movement, that connection is tenuous and fleeting at best.

People magazine reported earlier this year that displaying an upside-down American flag has increasingly become a "bipartisan act of rebellion" employed by individuals all across the political spectrum to symbolize their distress or discontent with the nation's direction, policies, or political leaders.

Nor is it inherently wrong or illegal or unethical to fly an inverted flag, as the U.S. Code states that "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

What constitutes "dire distress" and "extreme danger" is of course an objective metric left up to the individual American to determine -- whether others agree with that determination or not -- and in this instance, it seems highly unlikely that Justice Alito will cave to the complaints and demands of biased media outlets and partisan politicians with an agenda.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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