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Justice Alito’s Wife Has Managed to Avoid the Spotlight Until Now

In the 18 years since her family left their home in New Jersey and stepped into some of the most rarefied circles in Washington, Martha-Ann Alito has never sought or cultivated a particularly public identity.

As the wife of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., Mrs. Alito has described keeping a largely private life since his confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2006 — one grounded by raising two children and standing in support of her husband through scrutiny and sharp-elbowed politics.

On the handful of occasions she has stepped forward to address an audience or converse with reporters, Mrs. Alito has often spoken about herself in terms of her role within a tight-knit nuclear family, holding it together through her husband’s meteoric, and at times trying, rise within the judiciary.

“The most amazing part is, why do people care about our life,” she said in a 2006 interview, looking back on Justice Alito’s confirmation hearing, which at one point left her in tears and stirred discussion about the toll partisanship can take on nominees’ relatives.

But since reporting by The New York Times raised questions about how and why an upside-down American flag appeared outside her family’s home in Alexandria, Va., just days after rioters at the Capitol carried the same flag on Jan. 6, 2021, Mrs. Alito, 70, has abruptly found herself at the center of controversy. Her husband said she had placed it there amid a neighborhood spat.

By the time the family was on the cusp of moving to Washington, the Alitos’ children were college age. Mrs. Alito described welcoming the change, having left a career as a librarian to be a full-time homemaker and mother.

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