Why Samuel Alito Keeps Trolling the Libs

Samuel Alito Flag Politics

Why Samuel Alito Keeps Trolling the Libs

The notion that Samuel Alito was engaged in a politically neutral, patriotic act defies credulity. In signaling support for the insurrectionists, he has broken new ground. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes-who will guard the guardians?

Once could be an accident but twice starts to look like a pattern. On Wednesday, the New York Times broke the story that Supreme Court Justice Alito flew an upside-down American flag indicating support for the January 6 mob not only at his home in January 2021  but also an “Appeal to Heaven” flag widely associated with Christian nationalism at his vacation house in July and September 2023 on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. When confronted over the first flag, Alito said it was his wife who hoisted it in response to a cantankerous liberal neighbor. But that won’t wash for the second instance of flag-waving. Add in the fact that in August 2023 he dumped shares of the beer company Anheuser-Busch and exchanged it for stock in Molson Coors as the former came under fire from the right for its partnership with a transgender social media influencer and Altio emerges as the most adamant social conservative on the bench--surpassing even his colleague Clarence Thomas in his eagerness to troll the libs.

The indignation over Alito’s actions is widespread. “What we are seeing here is an extraordinary breach of not just the trust and the stature of the Supreme Court, but we are seeing a fundamental challenge to our democracy,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared on MSNBC. “Samuel Alito has identified himself with the same people who raided the Capitol on January 6 and is now going to be presiding over court cases that have deep implications over the participants of that rally.”

Far from being chastened by the criticisms, however, Alito is likely enjoying them. He has consistently shunned the traditional reticence of Supreme Court justices in public settings. When President Obama chastised the Supreme Court in 2010 in his State of the Union speech for abolishing corporate campaign spending limits, Alito didn’t take it lying down. He made a sour face, shook his head and muttered, “simply not true.” At the time, then-Senate Judciiary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy responded, “There were days when judges stayed out of politics. It would be nice to go back to those days.”

More often than not, Alito operates on the premise that a good offense is the best defense. A case in point arrived in Rome in July 2022 when he mocked critics of the Dobbs decision repealing Roe v. Wade. He criticized foreign leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron for dinging the opinion and sarcastically stated that what “wounded” him was when Prince Harry attacked it before in a talk at the United Nations. He concluded his talk by invoking the Bible, noting that “the champions of religious liberty, who `go out as wise as serpents and as harmless of doves’ can expect to find hearts that are open to their message.”

Another instance of Alito’s penchant for seizing the offensive came when the online publication ProPublica alleged in an investigative story that Alito had accepted and failed to disclose a luxury fishing vacation with the GOP billionaire Paul Singer who had business cases before the Supreme Court. On June 20, 2023 Alito preemptively wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating that ProPublica was about to publish its piece on him and that its charges were misleading and invalid.

Will the current ruckus over Alito’s flags carry any real consequences for him? Probably not, other than to fortify his support on the right. Former national security adviser John Bolton rushed to Alito’s defense, observing, “The January 6 people flew a lot of flags. They didn’t have the right or the ability to expropriate a patriotic symbol of the United Staets, and then have everybody else say it belongs to them and condemn Sam Alito or anybody else for flying that flag.” Maybe so, but the political implications of flying two separate flags intimately associated with the movement speaks loud and clear.

The notion that Alito was engaged in a politically neutral, patriotic act defies credulity. In signaling support for the insurrectionists, he has broken new ground. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes-who will guard the guardians?

About the Author: Jacob Heilbrunn

Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He has written on both foreign and domestic issues for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Reuters, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He has also written for German publications such as Cicero, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. In 2008, his book They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons was published by Doubleday. It was named one of the one hundred notable books of the year by The New York Times. He is the author of America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators.

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