‘Appeal to Heaven’ Flag, Causing Such a Fuss for Justice Alito, Flew at San Francisco Civic Center for 60 Years Before Being Removed Days Ago

In a letter to members of congress Wednesday, the justice made clear that it was his wife’s decision to fly the flag and refused to recuse himself because of it.

AP/Michael Perez
People carry an 'Appeal To Heaven' flag as they gather at Independence Mall to support President Trump. AP/Michael Perez

San Francisco has removed from its Civic Center Plaza the same American revolutionary-era flag — the “Appeal to Heaven” banner with its iconic evergreen tree — that some liberals are criticizing Justice Alito for flying at his New Jersey vacation home last year. 

Over the weekend, San Francisco’s city park officials took down the flag, which was one of 18 raised by the city on Flag Day in 1964, and replaced it with an American flag. Officials said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that the emblem originally symbolized the “quest for American independence,” yet it has “since been adopted by a different group — one that doesn’t represent the city’s values.”

The flag, featuring a green pine tree on a white background with its official slogan, was flown from George Washington’s ships during the Revolutionary War. It’s now become associated with conservative movements and appeared during riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The “Appeal to Heaven” emblem has also landed Justice Alito in the spotlight, with members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling for “active investigations” into flags that have appeared at his properties. Observers also spotted an upside-down American flag at the justice’s house near Washington less than two weeks after January 6. 

The developments prompted Senators Durbin and Whitehouse to ask Justice Alito last week to recuse himself from the pending Supreme Court case on the question of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution, as well as other cases related to the 2020 election and January 6.

In a response to the senators on Wednesday, Justice Alito made clear that it was his wife’s decision to fly both flags. He said he was not aware that the “Appeal to Heaven” was affiliated with the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement. 

“I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag,” Mr. Alito said. “I was not even aware of the upside-down flag until it was called to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused.”

The justice emphasized that his wife is “an independently minded private citizen” and has the right to “use the property as she sees fit.” Their shared vacation home in Virginia, he noted, “was purchased with money she inherited from her parents and is titled in her name.” He suggested that the request for his recusal is politically motivated.


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