Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Faces Impeachment Calls

Amid backlash over a photograph of an upside-down American flag at Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s home, the justice faced impeachment calls across social media on Friday.

On Thursday, a photograph taken on January 17, 2021, of an upside-down American flag displayed outside of conservative Justice Alito’s home was reported by The New York Times. The inverted flag—spotted just days before President Joe Biden‘s inauguration—is a symbol, often referred to as “Stop the Steal,” that has been used by supporters of former President Donald Trump to contest the 2020 presidential election results.

Despite lack of evidence, Trump and his allies have repeatedly and falsely claimed that his 2020 loss to Biden was due to widespread voter fraud. The photograph of the inverted flag outside Alito’s home was taken less than two weeks after a group of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6.

In a statement emailed to the Times, Alito placed all the responsibility on his wife, Martha-Ann Alito. The justice wrote he “had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag” and that it was “briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

The newspaper’s report raised questions about Alito’s ability to rule on Trump-related cases impartially—such as the soon-expected decision on whether Trump is protected by presidential immunity from charges in his federal election subversion case. Some have even suggested that Alito recuse himself from Trump-related cases because of the flag incident.

The controversy follows calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas‘ recusal from Trump cases after his wife, Ginni Thomas, said she attended Trump’s Washington, D.C., rally that preceded the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

According to the Supreme Court’s code of conduct, a justice “should maintain and observe high standards of conduct in order to preserve the integrity and independence of the federal judiciary” and “should not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.”

Newsweek has reached out to the Supreme Court via an online email form for comment.

Samuel Alito
United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito is seen on October 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Amid backlash over a photograph of an upside-down American flag at Alito’s home, the justice faced impeachment calls…

Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Friday, social media users on X, formerly Twitter, called for Alito’s impeachment.

“Justice Alito should be impeached. I don’t say this lightly, and this is not something that you do simply bc you disagree with a judge’s judicial philosophy. But he is deeply corrupt, irreparably biased, and legit bonkers. From the undisclosed trips to the weird letter in WSJ to public comments responding to criticism to flying the flag upside down in support of Trump/Jan. 6 (!!!!!!) to talking to FOX NEWS (??!?!??!!!) how in the freaking world can this Court be taken seriously??” former FBI special agent and lawyer Asha Rangappa wrote.

In response to Rangappa, a former assistant U.S. attorney and frequent Trump critic, Glenn Kirschner wrote on X, “I’m with Asha.”

Jon Cooper, a former national finance chair of Draft Biden 2016, a super PAC, took to X to share a petition to have Alito impeached, writing, “We can’t have a treason-endorsing justice on the Supreme Court!”

As of Saturday morning, the petition has amassed 754 signatures, with the goal of 5,000 signatures.

Radio show host Dean Obeidallah called for action to be taken by Senate Democrats to hold hearings.

“Justice Alito should be impeached and removed!! If a liberal justice flew a flag in support of coup attempt waged by a Democratic President, the House GOP would immediately impeach him! We need Senate Dems to hold hearings!” he wrote on X.

Journalist Mehdi Hasan took to X to call for the impeachment of Alito and Thomas.

“Alito and Thomas, both should be impeached,” he wrote.

In order to impeach a Supreme Court justice, the House of Representatives would vote on whether to impeach the justice in question. If the justice is impeached, there would then be a Senate trial. The House needs only a simple majority to impeach a Supreme Court justice or any federal judge, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. To convict and then remove the justice or judge, the Senate requires a two-thirds majority.