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The Alitos's Upside Down Flag

Justice Alito’s Upside-Down “Patriotism”– “It’s My Wife’s Fault” June 9, 2024



Remember Gen. 3:12? If you can’t recall this Scriptural chapter and verse from your religious education, let me refresh your memory. Gen. 3:12 involves the Garden of Eden. God first asks Adam whether he had eaten from the tree that He had commanded Adam not to eat from (Gen. 3:11). Adam’s reply? He blames the woman (Eve) for giving him the forbidden fruit which he then ate (Gen. 3:12). The Biblical account notes that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden because of this action (Gen. 3:24). Well, thousands of years later, women are still being blamed for men’s actions and views, including in the political arena.


On May 16, 2024, the “New York Times” reported that on January 17, 2021, just 11 days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win, an American flag was seen hanging upside-down outside a house in Alexandria, Virginia (newsweek.com, Dunn, B.,5/17/24, 5/20/24). The photograph of this upside-down hanging flag was taken just three days before President Biden’s inauguration (nytimes.com, Weiner, J., 5/20/24). To whom did this house belong? This house belonged to none other than conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Justice who wrote the opinion to overturn the pro-choice “Roe v. Wade” decision. In an email to the Times, Justice Alito said he had “no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag.” Alito added, “It (the flag) was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”Translation: “I, Justice Alito didn’t put up the upside-down flag myself.” Mrs. Alito, of course, is Martha-Ann Alito, Justice’s Alito’s wife. “If you’re upset with this upside- down flag, blame my wife (See nytimes.com, 5/17/24, 5/19/24, Levenson, M.).” What does an upside-down flying American flag mean and who is Mrs. Alito?


An upside-down American flag has been a widely recognized symbol of distress or call for help since the founding of our country. At that time, sailors turned the American flag upside-down to signal that their ships were sinking, on fire, or trapped in ice. It was the easiest way to signal distress from a ship without having any specific flag. In 1974, a 67-year old clam digger, Julius Novickis, flew the inverted flag after he had suffered a stroke on a deserted island off Nassau County, on Long Island, NY, and was rescued by a police helicopter (nytimes.com, Levenson, M., 5/17/24, 5/19/24). However, over time, the upside-down American flag has become a symbol used more often by political protesters on all sides to indicate that they believed that the nation itself was in serious peril. In the pre-Civil War 1850’s, anti-slavery advocates, such as Henry David Thoreau, delivered abolitionist speeches in front of upside-down American flags. Anti-war Vietnam leftist protesters in the 1960’s and 1970’s carried the flag upside down as well (nytimes.com, Levenson). Still, in recent years, the extreme right has basically “captured/co-opted the upside-down flag” to show its political discontent. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, in then right-wing Orange County (the OC) CA, during the heyday of the hard-right John Birch Society, Birchers and Birch sympathizers often flew the American flag upside down.They did this to attack Democrats and liberals. In recent years, the inverted flag has been displayed by right-wing anti-governmentTea Party activists who went after Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular (nytimes.com, Levenson, 5/17 & 5/19/24, nytimes.com).


Most recently, after the 2020 election, supporters of Demagogue Donald rallied around the inverted flag. They displayed it in their homes, on their cars, and on social media. They did this to show that they believed Donald’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. In fact, some of these rabid MAGA supporters began displaying upside-down American flags even before the votes in the 2020 election had been counted (nytimes.com, Levenson, 5/17/ & 5/19/24)! In effect, currently flying an American flag upside-down means “Stop the Steal,” the cry of Donald’s rabid supporters and members of the Jan. 6, 2021 mob.


Martha–Ann Bomgardner Alito was born in southern-GOP leaning Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Kentucky before she became a law librarian. She met her future husband Sam when he was a law clerk and was using the same library where she was working.They married in 1985 and have two children (newsweek.com, 5/17/24). And the inverted flag case is not the first time that Martha-Ann Alito has been involved with controversial matters that landed her in the news. Normally, the spouses of Supreme Ct. Justices just show up in the High Court chamber only when their partners are reading landmark decisions that they have written.They usually stay behind the scenes. Not so in Martha-Ann Alito’s case. She has been accused of being involved in leaking the 2014 Supreme Court decision in the “Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores” case before SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) had ruled on it. In the “Hobby Lobby” opinion, authored by Justice Alito, the Justices decided that corporations were not required to provide insurance covering certain forms of contraception to their employees if this violated their religious beliefs (newsweek.com, 5/17/24).


Even if Justice Alito thinks it’s okay to blame his wife for putting out the inverted flag, he, frankly, owns this action “big time.” He had more than three years to tell her that what she did was wrong because she was involving herself and himself in issues that could make the Supreme Ct. look bad. His failure to tell her to take the flag down sure looks like he agreed with her and does not in any way help SCOTUS’s declining reputation among the American public. When Martha-Ann put out her inverted flag, the High Court was still deciding whether to hear a 2020 election case (Levenson, nytimes.com, 5/17 & 5/19/24). When the “NY Times” broke the story of the Alitos’ showing an upside--down American flag, SCOTUS had already heard arguments on whether Trump is protected by presidential immunity in his federal election subversion case. Justice Alito did not stay out of the oral arguments on this immunity question, which other SCOTUS Justices might have done (See newsweek.com).


Prominent horror author Stephen King posted to “X” formerly Twitter, “A Supreme Court Justice–Samuel Alito–flying an upside-down flag outside his house, indicating Stop the Steal. I have no words.(@Stephen King, 5:05 PM, May 16, 2024).” His post has now been viewed more than 702,700 times (newsweek.com 5/17 & 5/20, 2024). Many people have shared their anger and disgust with Alito and his wife’s upside-down flag flying. One person wrote that it was “insane” for Alito to think it was ok to blame his wife and talked about how bad both Justices Alito and Thomas now are (newsweek.com). Even some GOP Senators criticized this Alito upside-down flag action. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) stated, “Obviously, the optics are terrible.” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) found the flying of an upside-down flag at a Supreme Court Justice’s home to be “weird (yahoo.com, Bobic, I., 5/20/24).”


Don’t count on Alito to recuse or disqualify himself from hearing any Trump-related election cases. Unlike the lower federal courts, SCOTUS, until recently, had no ethical rules. After controversies related to Justice Thomas, SCOTUS enacted its first code of ethics in November, 2023. However, these policies were met with swift criticism because they lacked a clear enforcement measure of holding SCOTUS Justices accountable (newsweek.com, 5/17 & 5/20/24). Again, there is only one way to make sure SCOTUS will be held accountable in the future. In 11/2024, Democrats and moderates must vote in droves plus to re-elect President Biden, take back the House, and keep the Senate Democratic. Biden will continue to appoint excellent Supreme Ct. and lower federal judges and a Democratic Senate will confirm these nominees. Our rallying cry: “No more Clarence Thomases or Sam Alitos!”

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