Alito Repeatedly Blames Wife for Flag Controversy in Letter

Samuel Alito

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito believes firmly in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. But within that union, Alito clearly believes it is fine for the man to keep blaming the woman when the man gets in hot water for ethical conflicts at work.

On Wednesday, Alito responded to a letter from Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Dick Durbin, who requested that the justice recuse himself from all January 6–related cases before the Court for flying “MAGA battle flags” outsides his homes. They were referring to the New York Timesreporting that revealed the Alitos flew an upside-down American flag at their home in Alexandria, Virginia, in the days after the January 6 Capitol riot — a flag favored by “Stop the Steal” proponents — and also hoisted a far-right-coded “Appeal to Heaven” flag at their New Jersey beach house in 2023. When Alito first responded to Times reporters, he pointed the finger at his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, for flying the upside-down flag over an ugly spat with neighbors, which ended with those neighbors calling the police. And in Wednesday’s letter, Alito went all in on the spouse-shaming while absolving himself of any responsibility.

“I was not even aware of the upside-down flag until it was called to my attention,” Alito wrote. “As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days she refused.” The wife defense raises a few questions here. Photos of the inverted flag show it very clearly waving in a prominent position on his front lawn in the days after the Capitol riot. Did he have his eyes on the ground the whole time it was up?

Alito did at least respect his wife’s constitutional rights to fight with their neighbors and cause problems for him at work. “My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly,” he wrote. “She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit.” Though he is one of the most powerful men in America outside his domicile, Alito wrote that there were “no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.”

Alito did not disavow the association between the upside-down flag and January 6 rioters. But he did claim that he and his wife were “not aware” of the connection between the “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his beach home and the effort to overturn the 2020 election. To be safe, he pinned its display on his wife anyway. “I recall that my wife did fly that flag for some period of time, but I do not remember how long it flew,” he wrote. “And what is most relevant here, I had no involvement in the decision to fly that flag.”

Alito wrapped up his letter with a blanket statement blaming his wife for all future ensign-based controversies: “My wife is fond of flying flags, I am not. My wife was solely responsible for having flagpoles put up at our residence and our vacation home and has flown a wide variety of flags over the years.” Unsurprisingly, Alito determined that he remains an impartial judge in January 6–related matters, and that he should not recuse himself. Perhaps his wife has a flag to mark that occasion, too.

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