Against all odds, a Supreme Court that is openly scornful of the idea of holding Donald Trump accountable for his various crimes has revealed itself to be even more deranged than previously thought. On Thursday, The New York Times reported that in the days after January 6, 2021, the Capitol rioters earned at least one supporter in a very notable place: Sam Alito’s front yard. Flying above the justice’s home in suburban Washington was an upside-down American flag, which had become a well-known symbol adopted by aggrieved Trump voters who believed the election had been stolen, and that the only way to restore the proper constitutional order was to hang Mike Pence.

I am not surprised that Sam Alito, a reactionary dunce who has not absorbed information from any non-Newsmax source since 2008, might feel sympathy for his preferred presidential candidate in the aftermath of January 6. But I admit I am kind of floored that he would be this brazen about it. The Court has long cultivated a reputation for itself as the intellectual branch of the federal government, whose members swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This little stunt puts Alito, a sitting Supreme Court justice, firmly in the company of people who had just tried to murder elected officials and overthrow the federal government.

When asked for comment, Alito told the Times he had “no involvement whatsoever” with the display of a pro-coup flag that was, again, flying outside his fucking house. Instead, he blamed his wife, Martha-Ann, who he says “briefly” inverted the flag “in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.” He elaborated a bit more in an interview with Fox News’s Shannon Bream, explaining that a neighbor had put up a “Fuck Trump” sign “within 50 feet of where children await the school bus.” When Martha-Ann objected, Alito says, the neighbor cursed her out and erected a new sign that “personally” blamed her for January 6. This caused Martha-Ann to become “distraught,” Alito said, and to hang their flag upside down “for a short time” in response. 

This story is incoherent bullshit. First, schools were remote at the time, which means that, whatever Alito’s objections to the sign(s) might have been, “children at the bus stop” would not have been among them. 

More generally, there are 10,000 ways that aging Boomers can bitch about their annoying neighbors, most of which involve poorly-punctuated NextDoor threads and passive-aggressive street parking shenanigans. Never once have I heard of anyone taking out their frustrations by inverting the American flag, which only functions as a meaningful response to a political sign if you endorse the political message that inverting the American flag sends. As excited as Ginni Thomas was for the Biden crime family to face military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, at least one member of the Alito household was also apparently unwilling to let the legal system run its course.

Alito’s statement to the Times is most notable for the stuff it omits: He could have clarified, for example, that he did not intend to convey support for unhinged voter fraud conspiracy theories. He could have provided assurances that, whatever his alarmingly online wife may or may not believe, he is not a “Stop the Steal” freak and recognizes Joe Biden as the lawfully-elected president. He could have answered the obvious question of why he didn’t take the flag down immediately, if for no other reason than to maintain the appearance of impartiality while the Court was deciding cases related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

Instead, his entire story is that a neighbor’s allegation about his family’s support for January 6 prompted his family to display an actual symbol of support for January 6. This is roughly the equivalent of taking great offense to being unfairly smeared as a Yankees fan, and building a statue of Derek Jeter in the front yard to prove the haters wrong.

Since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, Alito has embraced his role as the Court’s resident right-wing crank, routinely throwing out questions at oral argument that would not be out of place in a Bill O’Reilly monologue. But anecdotes like this one reveal just how far to the right a Court controlled by a six-justice conservative supermajority really is: One of the nine most powerful politicians in the country lives in a household where sympathy for violent insurrectionists is, at the very least, an unremarkable thing to express in public. I have joked before that Alito is the justice who most regrets not personally participating in January 6; I had no idea I was this right.

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