'Not Good Judgment': GOP Senators Ding Samuel Alito Over Upside-Down Flag

WASHINGTON ― Republican senators criticized Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito over the flying of an upside-down American flag at his house following the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.

“Emotions are apparently high in that neighborhood but no, it’s not good judgment to do that,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told HuffPost on Monday.

“I don’t know what role ― he said his wife was insulted and got mad ― I assume that to be true, but he’s still a Supreme Court justice. And, you know, people have to realize that moments like that, to think it through.”

Last week, The New York Times revealed that the upside-down flag flew outside the conservative justice’s home for several days. Alito said that his wife put up the upside-down flag after a dispute with neighbors over “insulting language” on yard signs, including one sign that blamed her for the Jan. 6 riot.

The upside-down flag became a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement following Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss and was displayed by some of his supporters who clung to baseless election conspiracy theories. Before that, it was widely recognized as a symbol of distress or protest.

“Obviously, the optics are terrible,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said of the episode on Monday.

“It suggests a partisan take on a series of events that you want them to be dispassionate on, but he’s got his own side of the story,” the senator added of Alito.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) found the flying of an upside-down flag at a Supreme Court justice’s home to be “weird.”

“First of all, why would you allow it in the first place?” Rounds said. “And second of all, why would you―I just don’t understand why you would do that in your yard like that.”

“It was weird, and that’s still what I’m thinking about,” Rounds added.

But other Republican senators defended Alitos and dismissed the story as just another example of Democratic attacks on conservatives on the high court.

“Justice Alito didn’t say anything to anybody,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said. “He didn’t put the flag up, his spouse did. And I don’t think you can tell spouses that they have to forfeit their right to say what they believe.”

“My gosh, you’d think it was a slow news week to make that a big story, to be honest with you,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) added.

The flag controversy has resurfaced lingering questions about ethics and impropriety at the Supreme Court following a series of revelations about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his cozy ties to wealthy GOP donors, as well as reports that his wife Virginia Thomas was involved in efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

That the news about the flag broke as the justices considered Trump’s claims for absolute immunity for his Jan. 6 election subversion case only underscored the need for Congress to get involved and pass legislation requiring ethics reform on the Supreme Court, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Monday.

“I think flying the American flag upside down is truly reprehensible for anyone but it is particularly repugnant for a high-ranking public official who is sworn to enforce the law and protect America,” Blumenthal said on Monday. “The excuse of blaming it on his wife like he didn’t see it ― I want his explanation in a hearing.”