Samuel Alito displayed "stop the steal" symbol at home, days after Jan. 6

The justice dissented in a case ending Trump's election challenges, weeks after the flag was noted by neighbors

Published May 16, 2024 10:17PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Samuel Alito (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Samuel Alito (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

A bombshell report from the New York Times revealing that Justice Samuel Alito displayed a “stop the steal” symbol outside of his home, just days after January 6th, is reigniting fears that the conservative majority of the court could cast democratic norms aside in future Trump legal battles.

An upside-down flag, a symbol of a movement to reject the 2020 election, hung outside Alito’s Virginia home on Jan. 17, 2021, per the Times report, weeks before Alito dissented in a 6-3 ruling to uphold Pennsylvania’s election of Joe Biden.

In a statement to the Times, Alito didn’t disavow or reject the message that the symbol sent, instead blaming his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, for placing the flag “in response to a neighbor's use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs."

Experts say that Alito having the display at all constitutes an ethics violation, including Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia, who said the appearance of partiality was problematic for a Supreme Court justice.

“He shouldn’t have it in his yard as his message to the world,” Frost told the Times. “[It’s] the equivalent of putting a ‘stop the steal’ sign in your yard, which is a problem if you’re deciding election-related cases.”

Alito’s wife isn’t the first to publicly subvert the results of Joe Biden’s election: Ginni Thomas, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, engaged in efforts to pressure Republican state lawmakers to replace state electors for Biden.

Justices Alito and Thomas each have wives who have challenged the results of the 2020 election. Alito and Thomas, along with three Trump-appointed justices, could form a majority on any number of cases involving Trump.

This isn’t the first potential conflict of interest Martha-Ann has created for Alito, previously leasing land to an oil company while the Justice mulled major rollbacks to environmental protections, according to The Intercept.

A code of conduct on the nine justices, who serve lifetime terms, faced scrutiny for its lack of enforcement mechanisms. Alito argued last year that Supreme Court justices aren’t able to be held to an ethics standard at all, calling the stance a “controversial view.”

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