Justice Alito’s Assault on Democracy Continues

Yes, overturning Roe and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s "stop the steal" nonsense are related.

Photo illustration of Martha-Ann and Samuel Alito
We could have seen this one coming. Shutterstock/Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group illustration

This piece first appeared in our weekly newsletter, The Fallout.

By now, you might have seen the New York Times report that Justice Samuel Alito and his wife Martha-Ann apparently flew an upside-down U.S. flag, a known symbol for election-deniers and “stop the steal” conspiracists, outside their Virginia home shortly after the far-right January 6 attack on the Capitol. Alito denies flying the inverted flag and blamed it all on his wife, who he claimed embraced the insurrectionists symbology as part of a spat with neighbors.

The scandal is such a perfect snapshot of the Supreme Court right now, and frankly, we could have seen coming. Alito, like Justice Clarence Thomas, is a Republican partisan first and a Supreme Court justice second. And he always has been. The only unifying theme in his jurisprudence is a fidelity to the Republican cause.

In fact, if you think of Alito and his wife as run-of-the-mill red-pilled MAGAs streaming Fox News—the only platform he provided a statement to after the report—at dinner, his judicial opinions make a lot of sense. And when placed in context with a conservative movement that has enthusiastically tossed aside democratic norms in their rush to embrace fascism, Alito playing footsie with January 6 supporters is, again, something we all probably could have anticipated.

It also really drives home that Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is, at its core, also an attack on our democracy. Fascism depends on reproductive oppression and coercion, on the state overriding personal agency, and on enforcing reproductive policy by force, if necessary.

For as flawed as Roe v. Wade was, it was at least a check on that fascist impulse to forcibly control reproduction because it recognized some autonomy of pregnant people. The Dobbs decision, under Alito’s leadership, erased all of that, including any obligation the state has to recognize the agency of people who can get pregnant and give birth.

In short, only a fascist could have written the Dobbs decision. And, thanks to the New York Times’ reporting, that tie is even clearer than before.