Alito’s flag controversy foreshadows contentious Supreme Court rulings

By Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News

Justice Samuel Alito’s flag-flying controversy has reignited the political firestorm over the Supreme Court, just as it prepares to issue a blizzard of high-stakes rulings topped by a clash over Donald Trump’s bid for immunity from prosecution.

Alito left Democratic lawmakers stewing last week by rejecting calls to step away from Trump cases amid revelations that his wife flew flags at their homes that also were displayed by the former president’s supporters during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Chief Justice John Roberts backed Alito by telling lawmakers that recusal decisions are up to individual justices.

Amid that turmoil, the court will issue about 30 rulings by the end of June, including decisions that could stop abortion pills from being dispensed by mail, strike down gun restrictions and slash the power of regulatory agencies. The biggest will come on Trump’s bid to avoid criminal charges for trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

The case is “probably the most important presidential power case since the Nixon tape case or something close to it,” said Josh Blackman, who teaches constitutional law at South Texas College of Law, referring to the 1974 ruling that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.