Supreme Court Justice Alito sold AB InBev and bought Coors

United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito poses for an official portrait in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court Building on October 7, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has sold shares of beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev while conservatives are slamming the Bud Light brewer for its partnership with a transgender social media influencer.

On the same day that Alito sold Anheuser-Busch, he then bought back the same amount of shares Molson Coorsa company with a history of being confronted political boycotts of itself, according to the filing.

The transactions have led to new accusations that Alito, one of the Supreme Court's six conservatives, is engaging in or affiliating with partisan politics despite a recently adopted code of conduct directing justices to refrain from political activity.

Alito sold between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of AB InBev stock on August 14, 2023, according to a financial disclosure filing for justice recently made public through a federal court filing. database.

A periodic transaction report for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Courtesy: United States courts

The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Alito's trade report or the timing of his stock activity.

At the time of Alito's stock sale, Anheuser-Busch was still grappling with a months-long campaign to boycott Bud Light after the company partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in a social media campaign in April 2023.

The partnership put the world's largest beer company at the center of a broader battle over transgender rights and acceptance in the US — and sparked a backlash from both conservatives and supporters of Mulvaney, who was allegedly stalked and targeting death threats amid the controversy.

In May 2023, Modelo replaced Bud Light as the top-selling beer in the US. Data from around that time showed Bud Light sales were down nearly 25% year over year.

Nevertheless, AB InBev reported better-than-expected earnings in the second quarter of 2023, and appears to have emerged from the boycott efforts virtually unscathed as of May.

Alito's move to Fever is also notable in light of the company's history of facing boycotts from Mexican-Americans, Blacks, and the LGBTQ community over workplace practices.

Alito's investment activities came to light as the justice department faced a wave of criticism over a New York Times report that an upside-down American flag – a symbol used by supporters of the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” conspiracy – was flown at his home in the days following the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol.

Alito denied any involvement in the flag reversal. He told the Times that his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, did so “briefly” “in response to a neighbor's use of offensive and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

But that statement has not quelled Alito's critics, some of whom are now demanding he explain the timing of his sale of Anheuser-Busch.

“Given its timing and appearance much like an upside-down flag, this sale could be construed as a political statement,” Gabe Roth, executive director of the nonprofit legal watchdog group Fix the Court, said in an email to CNBC.

“I believe that Supreme Court justices should refrain from making political statements — even side statements or even statements that their wives or real estate agents may have made about their properties or in their brokerage accounts,” Roth said.

Roth noted that the beer companies in question have no pending cases before the Supreme Court that he can think of.

But if Alito or his broker were really responding to the Bud Light boycott or the surrounding culture war, Roth said, the stock sale “speaks more to the media influx of Justice and where that puts him on the political spectrum.”

“If the sale was in response to last year's Bud Light controversy, it could have some semblance of a bias problem when it comes to future litigation regarding trans rights,” Roth said.

Read more CNBC political coverage

The transaction notice was one of many placed in the Federal Judicial Financial Disclosure Reports database last week, and then deleted without explanation. Roth said their disappearance “may have been due to the newness of the system.” The reports had reappeared in the database as of late Monday morning.

The reports were first reported earlier Monday by the legal blog Law Dork.

The court will soon rule on whether former President Donald Trump will receive presidential immunity from criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority after Trump appointed three justices, is not expected to grant Trump's sweeping immunity claim that a former president cannot be sued for official acts he performs while in office. But the justices appeared skeptical about parts of federal prosecutors' case against Trump during oral arguments in April.

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