Hakeem Jeffries Condemns Alito's 'Sympathy' Towards Jan. 6 Rioters

Controversy erupts over Supreme Court ethics and conduct.

by Nouman Rasool
Hakeem Jeffries Condemns Alito's 'Sympathy' Towards Jan. 6 Rioters
© Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries publicly criticized Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for flying an upside-down American flag outside his home, in a widely interpreted message that he's now a member or supporter of the divisive "Stop the Steal" movement.

This is about a report from The New York Times indicating the flag was flown after the turbulent events of January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. After the 2020 presidential election, supporters of baseless fraud theories in the election took up the upside-down flag, an icon of distress.

Jeffries accused Alito of "disrespecting the American flag and sympathizing with right-wing violent insurrectionists," demanding an immediate apology from him during a statement issued on Friday evening. In defense, Justice Alito explained to The New York Times that the flag was placed by his wife as a response to a neighborhood dispute involving a lawn sign that provocatively blamed her for the January 6 riot.

Further, Alito commented to Fox News that his wife’s gesture was a reaction to "objectionable and personally insulting language" on yard signs by their neighbors.

Call for Ethical Reform

Amid these revelations, Senator Dirk Durbin also called for Alito's recusal from any cases tied to the 2020 election and the January 6 events, alongside advocating for stricter ethical standards for Supreme Court justices.

"The Constitution demands and the American people deserve more from a justice serving on the highest court in the land than baseless election denial," Jeffries emphasized, advocating for Congress to enact legislation that imposes a robust ethical code on the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court later issued its first-ever ethics code in November, saying that a justice must step down from any case in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned. But critics say it is a worthless safeguard since there is nothing to enforce the code but the honor system.

The incident has sparked a wider debate about judicial conduct and the necessity for enforceable ethical standards within the Supreme Court. Several Democrats, including Senators Brian Schatz, Tim Kaine, and Richard Blumenthal, have echoed the call for Alito's recusal and a more stringent enforcement of ethics rules.

While many Republican lawmakers have remained silent on the issue, Representative Tom Cotton defended Alito, denouncing the Times report as a "smear" intended to "intimidate justices."