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Red flags fly over the Supreme Court


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Red flags fly over the Supreme Court

At the very least, Justice Alito should recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election.

Commentary by Peter Montgomery | OtherWords.org

America’s highest court is supposed to be impartial — especially when it comes to our elections and constitutional rights.

Unfortunately, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has been sending not very subtle signals that he’s aligned with former President Donald Trump’s MAGA movement — and the exclusionary Christian nationalism that motivates many of Trump’s followers.

Americans learned recently that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown over Alito’s beach house last summer. We also found out that an upside-down American flag flew at Alito’s home in the days following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Both flags were carried by insurrectionists fighting to keep Donald Trump in office after he lost the 2020 election.

Passing the blame

Alito blamed his wife for flying the flags and claimed, not very convincingly, that they had nothing to do with contemporary politics.

The Appeal to Heaven flag, which features an evergreen tree and a phrase taken from the writings of John Locke to justify rebellion against unjust authority, was used by some patriots during the Revolutionary War.

But in recent years, it’s been adopted as a call to spiritual and political warfare against the idea of secular government — and a rallying point for those who believe Trump was anointed by God.

Dutch Sheets, an “apostle” within a movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation, has adopted and promoted the flag for the last decade. Sheets teaches that the church is meant to be “God’s governing force on the Earth.” Promoting a 2018 gathering at Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., called “The Turnaround: An Appeal to Heaven,” Sheets declared, “The Church is about to move into a completely new level of enforcing Kingdom rule and the will of God on earth.”

Dominionism’s ‘Appeal to Heaven’

This dominionist ideology is in direct conflict with the constitutional separation of church and state that preserves all Americans’ religious freedom and protects equality under law for people of every faith and no faith.

During Trump’s presidency, Sheets and his allies prayed that God would create more vacancies on the Supreme Court for Trump to fill. After Trump lost the 2020 election, Sheets was extremely active in the religious-right wing of the “Stop the Steal” movement to keep Trump in power, insisting that God did not want Joe Biden to be president. “Appeal to Heaven” flags were all over the Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, along with other symbols of Christian nationalist ideology.

The red flags over the Supreme Court are metaphorical. But the flags flown over Alito’s homes, and the messages they have sent, are very real. By flying these flags, hes called into question his ability to be impartial — and is making it harder for Americans to respect the court or expect its current majority to defend the rights of all Americans.

Despite these concerns, Alito insists that he won’t recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election. But he should. And Americans should consider the impact that the Supreme Court will have on our rights and freedoms.

This op-ed was updated for intervening events on May 30.

Peter Montgomery is a Senior Fellow at People for the American Way. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

OtherWords is a free editorial service published by the Institute for Policy Studies. They cover politics, policy and social issues from a non-partisan progressive perspective.

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