On Wednesday, The New York Times released evidence that a second provocative flag was flown outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s home. Such evidence has led Democrats to voice concerns about the conservative-leaning Supreme Court, calling on Alito to recuse himself from the pending Jan. 6 case involving former President Donald Trump.

Despite calls from prominent Democrats, including Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), for Alito to recuse himself from the current Supreme Court case considering whether Trump should be immune from prosecution for crimes involving official acts, following the second flag controversy, Alito has refused.

He asserts that the provocative flags were solely his wife’s doing and that no reasonable person would consider his recusal warranted based on these incidents.

“A reasonable person who is not motivated by political or ideological considerations or a desire to affect the outcome of Supreme Court cases would conclude this event does not meet the applicable standard for recusal,” Alito wrote.

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The report, featuring photos and witness accounts of the “Appeal to Heaven” flag—a symbol adopted by Jan. 6 protestors—flying outside Alito’s home, coincides with earlier reports of an upside-down American flag, symbolizing the “Stop the Steal” movement, displayed outside of Alito’s house shortly after the 2020 election.

While Alito claimed that his wife had raised the flag after getting into a dispute with a neighbor who displayed an anti-Trump sign on their lawn, Democrats believe this second incident suggests a concerning pattern.

“Alito proves yet again why we can’t just sit on our hands and turn a blind eye as right-wing extremists run the highest court in the land,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) wrote on X. “His responsibility as a Supreme Court justice is to be able to make decisions without fear or favor, with no favoritism.”

Both flag-hanging incidents, as well as a report released last year by ProPublica, showing that Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas, another conservative on the Court, accepted tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from wealthy conservatives who had close ties to Supreme Court decisions, have caused Democrats to raise questions about ethics and decorum on the Court.

Democrats argue that Alito and Thomas’s personal political views and conservative ties have compromised their impartiality, believing the justices no longer feel obligated to avoid appearing biased or influenced by their political affiliations.

“We have an out-of-control Supreme Court majority,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), voicing her disgrace with the Supreme Court on X, saying that the Court has a “reckless disregard for the Consitution” and continues to “undermine representative democracy.”

Similarly, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) expressed frustration with the “illegitimate” Court last weekend during an event with constituents from nine counties.

“Compared to 20 years ago, you never really heard about that as an issue,” said Merkely, “There was a sense that the Court’s above politics; they’re calling the balls and strikes, and that’s completely gone. It’s been accentuated by recent events.”

Along with calls for Alito’s recusal, Democrats also push for the SCERT Act, a bill promoting ethics and transparency within the Supreme Court.

“Until the Supreme Court and the Judicial Conference take meaningful action to address the Court’s ethical crisis, I will push to legislate. It’s time for the SCERT Act. It’s time for an enforceable code of conduct,” wrote Durbin on X.

Prominent Senate Republicans have echoed Democrat’s concerns, calling Alito’s actions “not good judgment” and “unwise.”

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