NYT Criticizes Justice Alito Again, Now Over Revolutionary Flag


For the second time this month, The New York Times has criticized Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for a flag displayed outside one of his private residences.

In an article published Wednesday, the Times targeted Alito over the “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his home, labeling it a “provocative symbol” due to its presence among protesters at the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.

Reporters from the Times visited Alito’s New Jersey beach home to inspect the flag, which was absent during their visit. They indicated the flag was displayed in the summer of 2023, referencing photos, neighbor interviews, and a Google Street View image from August 2023. Despite these sources, the flag is being reported now, nearly a year later.

The Times acknowledged the flag’s Revolutionary War origins but aggressively concluded it symbolizes loyalty to former President Trump and “a push to remake American government in Christian terms.”

In truth, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag (also known as the “Pine Tree” flag) is far from an emblem of extreme radicalism. The white flag with a centrally positioned green pine tree was originally designed by George Washington’s secretary and flown by six ships commissioned by Washington during the American Revolution. Additionally, the phrase “appeal to heaven” comes from 17th-century political philosopher John Locke, signifying the act of seeking divine intervention when earthly options are exhausted.

The flag has widespread presence both publicly and in popular culture. For instance, the flag is seen on Ron Swanson’s desk in the hit show “Parks and Recreation” ( link ). Disneyland also displays the flag in one of its theme park attractions. A user on the social media platform X noted a previous photo featuring the flag at a Black Lives Matter protest.

It is also notable that Alito is not the sole government official to fly the “Appeal to Heaven” flag. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has the flag displayed outside his office, one of three flanking his door as seen in a photo from the Times.

Nevertheless, the Times argued that the “disclosure about the new flag is troubling,” projecting their own interpretation of the flag to suggest an ethics violation that could impugn Alito’s conduct and the Court’s future dealings with cases related to Jan. 6 and upcoming elections.

This mirrors the Times‘ approach in a separate Alito flag article last week. Jodi Kantor, one of the reporters on the “Appeal to Heaven” flag article, criticized Alito over an upside-down American flag flown at his Virginia home in 2021. According to Alito, the flag was placed by his wife in response to a conflict with a neighbor over an anti-Trump sign.

Truth Voices’s Senior Legal Correspondent Margot Cleveland correctly highlighted that the Supreme Court’s code of conduct does not cover Alito’s wife, and her actions do not raise ethical concerns. Cleveland said, “It wasn’t Justice Alito who hung the upside-down flag we are hypothesizing was instead a ‘Stop the Steal’ placard — it was Mrs. Alito. And the Code of Conduct does not govern a spouse’s actions.”

The Times has cited the establishment of the new ethics code for the Supreme Court, which was created in November last year. However, even if the code applied to Mrs. Alito’s hanging of the U.S. flag upside-down, it was enacted two years after the incident. Similarly, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag reportedly flown in summer 2023 is also outside the scope of the new ethics code.

Despite this, the reporters suggest Alito should be scrutinized and potentially recuse himself from future cases. The Times claims that “judges are not supposed to give any impression of bias, yet the flag could be seen as telegraphing the Alitos’ views — and at a time when the justices were on the cusp of adopting a new ethics code.” The implication is that the consequences might be less severe if the new ethics code were not imminent.

Prior to these New York Times articles, the flags were flown at the Alito family’s homes without criticism or calls for recusal. The articles seem to be an effort to manufacture controversy around Alito, as evidenced by the creation of a “Alito Flag Controversies” section by the Times.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee mocked the Times article on social media, calling it “paranoid fantasy” and describing the obsession with Alito and his flags as “laughable nonsense.”

However, Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is using the controversy to push for more than just Alito’s recusal from future cases.

“Samuel Alito has identified himself with the same people who raided the Capitol on Jan. 6, and is now going to be presiding over court cases that have deep implications over the participants of that rally,” Ocasio-Cortez stated in an MSNBC interview. “Democrats have a responsibility for defending our democracy. And in the Senate, we have gavels. There should be subpoenas going out. There should be active investigations happening.”

Kamden Mulder
Kamden Mulder

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