Barf Bag: Justice Alito Had Nothing to Do With the Insurrection Flag at His House, OK?

Conservative grievance warrior Samuel Alito blamed the upside-down flag flying in his yard in January 2021 on his wife.

Politics
Barf Bag: Justice Alito Had Nothing to Do With the Insurrection Flag at His House, OK?

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In the period between the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, and President Joe Biden‘s inauguration, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had an upside-down American flag flying outside his Virginia home, the New York Times reported. An inverted flag is historically a sign of emergency and distress, but around that time, it became a rallying symbol for supporters of Donald Trump who believed the 2020 election was stolen. Some Jan. 6 insurrectionists even carried inverted flags at the Capitol that day. 

Justice Alito blamed the loaded symbol on his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, who he claimed was upset by a neighbor’s anti-Trump yard sign that allegedly bore some dirty words. “I had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag,” Alito said in a statement to the Times. “It was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

Firstly, I need to know exactly what this yard sign said (the lame Times doesn’t usually print expletives), and if it was on the lawn of the same neighbors who gave wine and cheese to a reporter covering protests after the Dobbs leak. Second, Alito seems to admit that the flag was upside down and say his wife was justified in doing it. Even if Mrs. Alito was using the flag for its traditional meaning as a kind of S.O.S. signal, this is an insane thing to happen at the home of a Supreme Court justice.

The flag situation also violated ethics rules, according to experts who spoke with the Times, because judges are supposed to avoid even the appearance of bias or political opinion. “It might be his spouse or someone else living in his home, but he shouldn’t have it in his yard as his message to the world,” said Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia. She added that this is “the equivalent of putting a ‘Stop the Steal’ sign in your yard, which is a problem if you’re deciding election-related cases.” Jeremy Fogel, a former federal judge and the director of the Berkeley Judicial Institute, told the Times, “The best practice would be to make sure that nothing like that is in front of your house.”

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will issue rulings in two Jan. 6-related cases: one about whether Trump has immunity for his actions that day, and another centering on certain criminal charges for Jan. 6 defendants. Fogel said, that in an ideal world, Alito would recuse himself—but there’s no entity that reviews misconduct allegations involving the highest court in the land. That means we’re left with hoping justices do the right thing: “I think it would be better for the court if he weren’t involved in cases arising from the 2020 election. But I’m pretty certain that he will see that differently,” Fogel said. That’s basically why Justice Clarence Thomas is also participating in cases on the 2020 elections and Jan. 6—even though his wife, Ginni Thomas, is a conservative activist who was pushing to get Biden’s victory overturned.

Alito and Thomas have also both accepted free trips from billionaires who had business before the court. They should have been forced to resign in disgrace over that behavior alone, but the Supreme Court ethics code is pathetic. If you need a reason to vote for Biden this fall, it’s that Thomas is will turn 76 next month and Alito is 74 and it’s possible the next president could nominate replacements for one (or both!) of them.


  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) pardoned a man who was convicted of fatally shooting a protester during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. [Texas Tribune]
  • Alleged moderate Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Biden should have pardoned Trump and, if he were president, he would have done so “immediately.” [NBC News]
  • Disgraced lawyer Rudy Giuliani has thus far avoided being served his April 24 indictment in an Arizona election interference case. He could be held in contempt if he doesn’t appear before a judge by May 21. [Washington Post]
  • Animal murderer and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is now banned from nearly 20% of her state after multiple Native tribes prohibited her from setting foot on tribal land. [Associated Press]
  • Cartoon villain and Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he opposes a bill to ban the use of artificial intelligence to create deceptive content about federal candidates. [The Hill]
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a hateful “bathroom bill” into law that bans trans students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. [Associated Press]
  • Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tried to dunk on Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) for wearing fake eyelashes. [NBC News]
  • There was a veritable chorus of freaks in court for Trump on Thursday, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). [The Hill]
  • The above is extra rich because Boebert reportedly didn’t attend her own son’s recent court hearing. [HuffPost]

This has been your weekly Barf Bag, thanks for reading! 

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