GOP Lawmakers Defend Justice Alito’s Right To Fly Historical Flags Amid Criticism

Republican lawmaker Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has rallied to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito after he faced scrutiny for flying an upside-down American flag and the historical “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his New Jersey vacation home.

The criticism comes after a New York Times article was published that criticized the flags flown at the justice’s home and attempted to tie them to the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, also known as the “Pine Tree Flag,” goes all the way back to the American Revolutionary War and was commissioned by George Washington in 1775.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) initially criticized Alito, saying, “It’s not good judgment to do that.” But Lee pushed back, declaring, “Martha-Ann Alito has every right to hang whatever flag she wants. In whatever manner she wants. She is a free citizen. And a freedom-loving, American patriot.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) even defended the flag, stating it has “nothing to do with” the “stop the steal” protests and that he has always flown it outside his office. A Rolling Stone article had previously attempted to portray the flag as a “symbol of Christian warfare” and link it to “right-wing religious extremism.”

The “Appeal to Heaven” phrase originates from British philosopher John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” which discusses the right of the people to appeal to a higher power when faced with unjust governance. The flag was even issued as a U.S. Postal Service stamp in 1968.