Justice Alito’s Blame-the-Wife Defense

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Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “We’re Suddenly Living in a ‘My Wife Did It’ Moment,” by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens (The Conversation, May 21):

Mr. Stephens goes on at length about why Justice Samuel Alito’s wife has “the constitutional right” to express a “Stop the Steal” opinion by hanging a flag upside-down in the Alitos’ front yard, as well as “a moral right” to express her opinion independently of her Supreme Court justice husband.

Then, when Ms. Collins challenges the propriety of a political symbol at the home of a justice who might someday have to decide on that very election’s validity, Mr. Stephens demurs with a mild “OK.”

Mr. Stephens’s argument is deeply disturbing. Our Supreme Court justices are expected to maintain not just the reality of no conflicts of interest that might influence their rulings, but also the “appearance” of no such conflicts.

To neighbors and now the nation, the flag made it appear that Justice Alito believes Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen election, and thus would rule in favor of Mr. Trump in related cases. Blaming his wife makes a sham of his own responsibility not to appear political.

No, a spouse may not express views in public that a justice is prevented from expressing. Were that to be the case, all justices could encourage their spouses to broadcast opinions the justice is barred from saying. That way lies madness.

James Berkman

To the Editor:

Re “A Time-Honored Political Tactic: Throw Your Wife Under the Bus” (front page, May 20):

Justice Samuel Alito said he had “no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag” supporting “the Big Lie,” blaming it on his wife.

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