Former Alito neighbor says Supreme Court justice is ‘at worst outright lying’ in his account of upside-down flag fracas

A former neighbor of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the judge is “at worst outright lying” about his account of a neighborhood spat that led to hoisting an upside-down US flag on his property in Virginia.

“At best, he’s mistaken, but at worst, he’s just outright lying,” Emily Baden told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “Even if it were a valid excuse that they were having a dispute with a neighbor and that made them put the flag up, that timeline just disproves it. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Earlier this month, TheNew York Times revealed that an upside-down American flag was flown at Justice Alito’s Virginia home in January 2021 following the 2020 presidential election – a symbol used by the “Stop the Steal” movement supporting Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

It was subsequently revealed that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown at Alito’s New Jersey vacation home, a symbol carried by rioters on January 6.

Following the revelations, Justice Alito blamed his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, for the incident, saying she put up the upside-down flag in response to a “very nasty neighborhood dispute”, which apparently involved Baden using the term “c***” in an exchange with his wife.

But Baden has disputed Alito’s account, claiming that the exchange didn’t happen until mid-February – one month after the photo of the upside-down flag on the Supreme Court Justice’s property, published in The New York Times, was allegedly taken.

Records obtained by CNN show that Baden’s then-boyfriend called the police on 15 February 2021, to complain about Martha-Ann Alito, accusing her of “unprompted” harassment.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr and his wife, Martha-Ann Alito (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr and his wife, Martha-Ann Alito (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The records added that the caller told police they believed the confrontations were based on yard signs they had put up that were critical of former president Donald Trump. One of the signs that Baden put on the lawn read, “You are complicit,” CNN reported.

Alito previously claimed that some of the signs erected by Baden were directed at his wife. Baden denied this on Wednesday, saying that the sign was not directed at either of the Alitos.

Justice Alito has sought to distance himself from the dispute, writing in a letter published last week to more than 30 members of Congress that he was unaware the upside-down American flag was being flown. He said that when he asked his wife to take it down, she “refused”.

“My wife is a private citizen, and she possesses the same First Amendment rights as every other American. She makes her own decisions, and I have always respected her right to do so,” he wrote.

He also sought to distance himself from the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, writing that he had “nothing to do whatsoever” with either of the flags.

He also insisted that he did not know what the “An Appeal to Heaven” flag meant or that it had a connection to the “Stop the Steal” movement.

The judge then explained that the “An Appeal to Heaven” flag was just one of the “wide variety of flags” his wife has flown over the years.

These include a flag thanking veterans, college flags, flags supporting sports teams, state and local flags, flags of nations, flags of places they visited, seasonal flags and religious flags, he wrote.

“My wife is fond of flying flags,” Alito wrote. “I am not.”

Baden said on Wednesday that Justice Alito “didn’t do anything” as she exchanged words with his wife. “He just kept walking,” Baden said. “And basically disappeared.”

The former Virginia resident admitted she regrets the exchange with Alito’s wife if it “distracts from that real message”.

Amid the dispute, Democrats in the Senate and House called for Justice Alito to recuse himself from the Trump v US case – which will determine if the former president has criminal immunity –as well as Fischer v US examining if January 6 rioters were correctly charged with a specific crime.

Justice Alito responded, saying that he would not recuse himself from the cases because “this event does not meet the applicable standard for recusal”.