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Judge Alito defends his wife’s right to fly her flag

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito announced Wednesday that he will not recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 presidential election or the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after photos were published of an inverted American flag displayed outside his home shown.

The reason, he said, was that it was his wife who was flying the flag, and he has no control over her.

That “my wife made me do it” excuse was quickly mocked online by posters who expressed the idea that Alito, a conservative hardliner on the court who helped overturn the case Roe v. Wadecould ever make such a modern argument in favor of women’s rights.

On Bluesky, users were absolutely running with the bit.

“The idea that Alito is unwilling to tell a woman what to do is a bit of a cry,” said Ian Bordreau.

Alito’s argument came in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Wash), who sent him a letter on May 23 asking him to recuse himself from the contested election cases after the election. New York Times reported on the flag. A photo of the flag was taken on January 17, 2021, just days after the riot at the Capitol, where supporters of former President Donald Trump also displayed the symbol.

At the time, Alito disagreed with a Supreme Court decision not to review a Pennsylvania case challenging the 2020 election results.

But the text of his defense was slavish ‘woman’s man’ prose.

“In considering whether this event warrants a recusal,” Alito wrote, “an unbiased and reasonable person would consider the following facts. As I have stated publicly, I had nothing to do with raising that flag. I wasn’t even aware of the inverted flag until it was brought to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to remove it, but for several days she refused.”

His wife, Alito, added, “makes her own decisions, and I have always respected her right to do so.” My wife loves waving flags.”

“Honestly, ‘my wife is an independent, autonomous person and if she wants to raise a flag in our house, I can’t and won’t stop her’ is probably the most post-19th century thing Alito has ever said,” user Popehat posted on Bluesky pointing to a screenshot in which Alito claims he asked his wife to delete it, but she refused.

“My wife and I co-own our home in Virginia,” Alito wrote in the letter. “She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps I could have taken to have the flag removed more quickly.”

Posters also raised the idea that Alito’s statement gave the impression that he placed more importance on a woman’s right to raise flags than on a decision to have an abortion.

“*bursts through the door, sweating and panting* A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO STEP,” read one meme.

Alito wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court, which overturned the cased Roe v. Wade. In it, he included references to a 19th-century law that could limit access to contraception in the United States, which some anti-abortion activists see as the next legal step to be taken.

Not everyone thought Alito’s respectful move toward his wife would work well, joking that former President Donald Trump wasn’t exactly a lover of women.

“Bro is taking a chance here…Trump won’t like showing weakness to a woman,” said John Castiglione.

But Trump soon came out with a post on Truth Social expressing his appreciation for Alito’s refusal to step aside.

“Congratulations to United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for showing the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE, and ‘COURAGE’ to refuse to step aside from making a decision on all things January 6 ,” Trump wrote. “All American judges, justices and leaders should have such a GRIT.”

But for others, Alito reduced himself to a whole new category of female-male.

“We’re adding ‘flag wife husband’ to the list of wives,” said one.


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*First published: May 29, 2024 3:01 PM CDT

Marlon Ettinger

Marlon Ettinger writes about politics, crime and culture. Email him with tips and ideas at [email protected].

Marlon Ettinger

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