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Thoughts on the Samuel Alito flag controversy

Absurd attacks on conservative Supreme Court justices have now become a spring tradition — like warmer weather, college graduations, Little League games, and Memorial Day. Given that the Supreme Court tends to issue its major rulings in June, and that the Court now has a conservative majority, the media spend this time laying the groundwork to delegitimize any decisions they might not like. This year, the target of left-wing ire is Justice Samuel Alito.

At the center of the latest manufactured controversy is the New York Times, which, within a week, ran multiple stories on flags that had been displayed at Alito’s homes. The Times assigned four reporters to this beat and has been eagerly begging readers for more tips on the topic.

The first story revealed that for a period of a few days in January 2021, the justice’s Virginia home displayed an upside-down American flag. Alito said his wife had hung up the flag in response to a dispute with a neighbor. The Times described the flag as a symbol of the “stop the steal” movement because some pro-Trump protesters had used it during that period. Evidence that it was well-known as an emblem of that movement was shaky at best.

Democrats and left-wing activists declared the incident a major breach of Supreme Court ethics, and dozens of elected Democrats called for Alito to recuse himself from any cases involving January 6. While displaying a flag upside down would not be our chosen response to a dispute, that Alito’s wife decided to display the flag that way is not a violation of any sort of judicial ethics.

If this weren’t silly enough, the paper of record followed up by reporting that “another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation house in New Jersey” last summer. The “provocative” symbol in question was the “Appeal to Heaven,” or Pine Tree Flag.

This is the same flag that was commissioned by none other than George Washington and designed by his secretary in 1775, to reference a riot in New Hampshire protesting British tree regulations. It became an emblem during the Revolutionary War, and the flag (absent the slogan) remains the official maritime flag of Massachusetts to this day. But because some January 6 rioters carried the flag, its 245-year-plus history before that event no longer matters.

When the story ran, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin laughably said in a press release, “This incident is yet another example of apparent ethical misconduct by a sitting justice, and it adds to the Court’s ongoing ethical crisis. For the good of our country and the Court, Justice Alito must recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection.”

This is how Democrats and the left-wing media operate. First, they create a phony controversy based on a nonstory. Then, they promote another nonstory only vaguely related to the first and present it as evidence of a pattern — as if multiple layers of nonsense suddenly add up to a major scandal.

We know what this is about. By the end of next month, the Court is expected to rule on cases related to the January 6 riot as well as Donald Trump’s claim of immunity, and if Democrats and the media don’t like the decisions, they want to be able to argue that the justices were compromised. Ultimately, convincing the public that the Court is hopelessly corrupt is a way to set the stage to pack the Court with radical left-wing justices. The last thing the proponents of this story want is an impartial, honest judiciary committed to the rule of law.

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