Justice Alito’s Upside-Down Flag Claim Dismantled by Police, Neighbors: Report

After reports that an upside-down American flag had flown outside the Virginia residence of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito during the period surrounding Jan. 6, 2021, the conservative justice blamed the flag’s placement on his wife, Martha-Ann — claiming her actions were a result of a clash over a neighbor’s anti-Trump yard sign and a verbal insult.

Now, the Alitos’ neighbors — Emily Baden and her then-boyfriend, now husband — are disputing the Alitos’ version of events, according to the The New York Times, which reviewed text messages and a police call to corroborate the claims. According to the Badens, Martha-Ann instigated the weekslong conflict and, at one point, spat at their car as they drove by the Alitos’ home.

Per the Times, the couple had placed signs on their yard that read “Trump Is a Fascist” and “You Are Complicit” shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Emily told the publication that the second sign was not directed at the justice and his wife, but at Republicans in general. The signs were soon taken down by Emily’s mother out of safety concerns.

Although it is not confirmed if Martha-Ann saw the signs, the couple said that as they were parking in front of their home, the justice’s wife pulled up in her car and glared at them. On Jan. 17 that year, per a photo obtained by the Times, the upside-down flag was seen outside the Alito home, where neighbors said it remained for a few days.

Three days later, following the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the couple drove past the Alito household. Per the couple and messages they sent to friends at the time, Martha-Ann ran toward their car, yelled something unintelligible, and as they drove past the Alitos’ residence again to exit the cul-de-sac, she appeared to spit at their car.

When speaking to a Washington Post reporter (per a story published last week), that same day, Martha-Ann shouted that the flag was “an international signal of distress.”

Then on Feb. 15, 2021, as the couple was pulling trash bins, the Alitos walked by; Martha-Ann used an expletive and called them “fascists,” while Justice Alito remained quiet, according to the Badens and texts they sent at the time.

In response, Emily said she used a lewd expression and said something to the likes of: “How dare you behave this way. You’ve been harassing us, over signs. You represent the highest court in the land. Shame on you.” The report contradicts Justice Alito’s claim that his wife hung the flag after insults were flung.

The Badens called the police following the incident, recording the conversation, which the Times confirmed with Fairfax County authorities.

Last week, The New York Times reported that another flag waved by many Jan. 6 insurgents who stormed the U.S. Capitol was seen outside the Alitos’ beach home in New Jersey last year. The “Appeal to Heaven” flag, also known as the Pine Tree Flag, was seen by their Long Beach Island residence during the summer months of 2023. Associated with a militant arm of Christian nationalism, it was used as a battle flag by many rioters on Jan. 6 seeking to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President Biden and to keep Donald Trump in office.

Multiple senators have called on Justice Alito to recuse himself from cases relating to the 2020 election and Capitol insurrection. “This incident is yet another example of apparent ethical misconduct by a sitting justice, and it adds to the Court’s ongoing ethical crisis,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) said in a statement. “For the good of our country and the Court, Justice Alito must recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6th insurrection.”

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