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Opinion | Justice Alito’s pro-choice household (for flags, anyway)

In a household where flag-waving is a pro-choice symbol, it seems the only autonomy Alito truly respects is that of his wife’s flag choices.

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In a twist that seems right out of a Kurt Vonnegut satire, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has taken a bold stance for autonomy—his wife’s, not yours. On Wednesday, Alito declined to recuse himself from two cases related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, citing his wife’s penchant for provocative flag displays as an unassailable exercise of her independence.

In a letter to Democratic members of Congress, Alito explained that the upside-down flag flown at their Virginia home and the “Appeal to Heaven” flag flown at the couple’s beach house in New Jersey were his wife Martha-Ann’s doing. He had no part in it, he insisted. In fact, he was powerless against her resolute flag-waving fervor. This might just be the most compelling argument for a flag-related pro-choice stance ever made by a Supreme Court justice.

“I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of the flag,” Alito wrote. “I was not even aware of the upside-down flag until it was called to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused.”

Yes, you heard that right. The man who has decisively voted to limit millions of women’s rights in this country is utterly helpless in his own home. How very progressive of him to respect his wife’s autonomy over flag poles. If only he extended the same courtesy to the women of America.

In an attempt to underscore his domestic equality, Alito added, “My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly. She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.”

Translation: When it comes to flags, Martha-Ann rules the roost. When it comes to women’s reproductive rights, Sam’s gavel swings with impunity.

Strangely, his letter did not dispute that the upside-down flag conveyed support for the “Stop the Steal” movement. So while Martha-Ann may be a flag enthusiast, her choices seem quite politically charged.

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“My wife is fond of flying flags,” Alito wrote. “I am not. She was solely responsible for having flagpoles put up at our residence and our vacation home and has flown a wide variety of flags over the years.”

Isn’t it curious that Alito and his fellow justice, Clarence Thomas, who have both authored opinions that send women’s rights spiraling back to the 1950s, live with women who are, by all appearances, defiant rebels? Ginni Thomas openly supports insurrection, and Martha-Ann Alito is a flag-waving hell-raiser who isn’t afraid to ruffle a few neighborhood feathers.

Perhaps Martha-Ann views her 30-something-year-old neighbor as a potential Handmaid. Could she be planning to “Martha” her? It’s a chilling thought, yet one that seems all too fitting in these surreal times.

In his letter, Alito concluded by stating that a reasonable person who isn’t motivated by “political or ideological considerations” would see no need for his recusal. Ah yes, because a Supreme Court justice’s wife flying flags that align with radical political movements is purely coincidental.

Alito, the same man who penned, “A government that can tell you what to believe can also tell you what not to believe,” seems blissfully unaware that he’s part of the very government dictating beliefs to the American public. Is there a mirror in Alito’s house, or does Martha-Ann’s extensive flag collection take up too much wall space?

In a household where flag-waving is a pro-choice symbol, it seems the only autonomy Alito truly respects is that of his wife’s flag choices. If only he could muster the same respect for all American women. I’d say that’s about as likely as watching unicorns surfing rainbows over Martha-Ann’s New Jersey beach house. This wasn’t an appeal to heaven but a symbol of the hell this Supreme Court is inflicting on the American people.

Rock on, Martha-Ann; let your freak flag fly.

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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