Many Americans have lost trust in the U.S. Supreme Court because of the political speech of some justices and their wives.

America has three distinct branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial.

Those three branches allow for checks and balances so that democracy and the will of people can come before tyranny.

However, many have lost respect for the U.S. Supreme Court because of the actions of a couple of justices regarding the effort to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, which culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

According to Jodi Kantor, Aric Toler and Julie Tate of the New York Times, “Last summer, two years after an upside-down American flag was flown outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation home in New Jersey, according to interviews and photographs.

“This time, it was the ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan.6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign and for a push to remake the American government in Christian terms.”

Alito has not responded to questions about the flag at his beach house.

However, he said that his wife raised the upside-down flag at their Virginia residence after a dispute with a neighbor.

Regardless, legal scholars and ethicists have raised concern over the matter.

And many Democratic lawmakers have asked Alito to recuse himself from cases related to Jan. 6.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that flying the inverted flag was “not good judgement.”

Additionally, many have raised the same concerns about Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife’s efforts to overthrow American democracy after she pushed the Big Lie that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election.

Thomas has also received calls to recuse himself from any case involving Jan. 6.

The recent controversy surrounding Alito and Thomas comes at a time in which many have criticized the Supreme Court for entertaining Trump’s claims for presidential immunity surrounding his criminal trials for trying to steal the 2020 presidential election and for not handing over classified documents once he left the White House in 2021.

Judges are not supposed to show any kind of bias because it will impact their credibility with the public.

Furthermore, justices are supposed to base their decisions on legal precedent, not their prejudices.

Indiana University law professor Charles Geyh said, “We all have our biases, but the good judge fights against them. When a judge celebrates his predispositions by hoisting them on a flag, that’s deeply disturbing.”

Alito has owned the New Jersey beach house since 2014 and local residents say that he is well-known in the area.

Some say they remember seeing him last summer.

And when they realized what the significance of the flag was, neighbors were even more surprised that the family would display the flag in such a visible spot that those on their boats would easily see it.

The six neighbors who shared photographs and accounts about the flag did so anonymously because they did not want to upset their neighbor.

However, when journalists from the New York Times visited the area, the flagpole was bare.

According to the New York Times, “Republican members of Congress and state officials have displayed the flag as well, among them Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator and a leader of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign. The highest-ranking elected official known to show the flag is Representative Mike Johnson, who hung it at his office last fall shortly after becoming speaker of the House.”

Johnson received the “Appeal to Heaven” flag as a gift from Pastor Dan Cummins, a guest chaplain for the House of Representatives.

A spokesperson for Johnson said, “[Johnson] has long appreciated the rich history of the flag, as it was first used by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.”

John Locke, a 17th century philosopher, popularized the phrase “appeal to heaven” as a call to rebel, even if that meant using physical violence to overthrow unjust rule.

Princeton University historian Anthony Grafton said, “It’s a phrase for trial by arms. The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgement.”

Despite Sen. Graham’s criticism of Alito flying the flags at his home, some Republican lawmakers have come to the defense of the judge.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “I just think Democrats are determined to harass members of the Supreme Court. I don’t see them criticizing Sotomayor, Kagan or others. So obviously, they don’t like Justice Alito or the decisions he makes. And this is just part of long-standing harassment of courts, going back to when Clarence Thomas was—talked about a high-tech lynching during his confirmation process.”

The senator also said, “People who are judges on the Supreme Courts have personal lives, they have families, and I don’t think they’re necessarily responsible for everything their families do or say.”

However, certain jobs require a certain level of non-partisanship like serving as judges or working as a journalist.

Some journalists do not even vote in primary elections because they do not want to give off the impression of partisanship.

If a person’s political or religious views seeps into their professional life, many from an opposing view might see their work as biased, which causes them to lose credibility in the eyes of many.

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