Evidence Is Building That Samuel Alito’s Brain Is Filled to the Brim With Right-Wing Internet Chum

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Last week, the New York Times broke the news that there was an upside-down American flag flying outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s Virginia home for some period of time, possibly several days, in January 2021.

If you’re like most Americans, your initial reaction to this news was probably, What? Upside down? Why? As it turns out, the gesture was being used at the time by hardcore Donald Trump supporters to show support for his campaign to “Stop the Steal,” i.e., his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In traditional protocol, an upside-down U.S. flag is used as a signal of distress, and on message boards and other online communities, right-wingers circulated the idea that inverting the flag for Trump would convey alarm about the purported theft of the election. In a statement and subsequent interview, Alito has said that his wife was responsible for the flag display choice, explaining that she had raised it in such a fashion to retaliate against a pro-Biden neighbor who had allegedly called her “the c-word.”

As Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern have written, wife or no wife, the explanation calls Alito’s temperament and judgment into question. It raises concerns about whether he can rule impartially on the issue of whether elements of the “Stop the Steal” campaign were illegal, as the court is being asked to. And it makes one wonder about the kind of information ecosystem the Alitos are a part of, given that the upside-down flag idea, per a follow-up Times story, was particularly popular among believers in the QAnon family of conspiracy theories, which allege that leading Democrats and other public figures are cannibals and pedophiles who work in coordination with one another to do cannibal-pedophile things. It’s democracy-imperiling enough if a Supreme Court justice believes the essentially baseless accusation that Biden “stole” the 2020 election. Do the Alitos also believe that leading Democrats and other public figures are cannibals and pedophiles who work together to commit acts of cannibalism and pedophilia? (I hope not!)

Similar concerns are raised by a Monday report in the Law Dork newsletter, which published a disclosure form documenting two stock transactions that Alito made on Aug. 14, 2023. On that day, per the form, Alito sold between $1,000 and $15,000 of stock in Anheuser-Busch and bought between $1,000 and $15,000 of stock in Molson Coors. Why is this significant? Because Anheuser-Busch makes Bud Light beer, and August 2023 was the height of the backlash against Bud Light for having engaged in a promotional transaction with social media personality Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman. Molson Coors makes Miller Light and Coors Light, Bud Light’s competitors.

Selling BUD and buying TAP at the time would not have had much value as an investment decision. (As it stands today, it would have been a money-losing move, with Molson Coors having lost about $10 per share in value while Anheuser-Busch has gained the same amount.) Your correspondent is not a registered financial adviser but understands that it is generally not considered advisable to rack up transaction fees selling and buying relatively modest amounts of stock in individual companies; the justice’s other disclosures do not portray him as a particularly active trader. What seems more likely is that Alito—or the enigmatic Mrs. Alito—made the beer conglomerate swap in order to make a political point about an issue that had become a controversy thanks to the furious viral efforts of right-wing media figures like Kid Rock and “Libs of TikTok” proprietor Chaya Raichik.

Much recent discourse about the Supreme Court has concerned whether its justices should be held to certain financial standards to prevent corruption. Given the past week’s news—and a somewhat infamous 1995 claim made by Clarence Thomas, Alito’s fellow Stop the Steal husband, to have stopped reading the newspaper and watching TV news—maybe there should also be something in their code of conduct about getting one’s information from, like, actual news sources?