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After yet another far-right controversy, how do we trust the Supreme Court with our rights?

Justice Samuel Alito
Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

After yet another news story about extremist or corrupt behavior by conservative justices, can we trust the court to rule on the most sensitive issues that directly affect our lives?

Welcome to the Advo Convo, where members of The Advocate take on recent news topics in a round-table-like discussion. This week we tackle this week's news surrounding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and the upside-down flag in his yard. Turning the flag that way has had plenty of meanings in U.S. history. However, most recently, it's become a symbol of the January 6 insurrection. It's also just the latest in controversies by this court's conservative members. So, with all of these issues, we ask the question: How can the LGBTQ+ community trust the Supreme Court with its rights?

John Casey: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito thinks we are all a bunch of morons. Remember his laughable — and insulting — excuse last year for accepting a fancy fishing trip? Well, he outdid himself this week.

When confronted with evidence and a picture of a flag flying upside down outside his home soon after the January 6, 2021, insurrection, this was his response:

“I had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag,” Alito wrote to The New York Times. “It was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

But blaming his wife, obscene as it is, isn't the story. The upside-down flag has become a symbol of MAGA and Donald Trump’s false claims of a rigged election. Moreover, flying the flag upside down is a grotesque way to treat our national symbol. The fact that a sitting Supreme Court justice had an upside-down flag in his yard and didn’t do a thing about it is as repugnant as you can get.

Alito, despite SCOTUS rules against being political, has really made it no secret that he supports Trump. This of course should recuse him from the upcoming cases that SCOTUS will rule on about Trump and January 6 insurrectionists. But there are no rules for justices because they monitor themselves and openly flaunt ethics violations that would doom judges in any other courts.

And Alito, the king of fishy excuses, wants us to believe that his wife got mad at a neighbor — who had a sign about Trump that included an expletive — by pulling out of thin air the idea to fly the American flag upside down in response. Really?

Now that we established just how vicious Alito is, let’s talk about what a lousy husband he is. Sammy, blaming the flag on your wife is just so 1960s. And referring to her as “Mrs. Alito” when her first name is Martha and she goes by Martha Bomgardner?

Sammy is brittle, so I’m sure he’s weeping reading that his wife is being thrashed about here — meanwhile, he’s the one who made her part of the story with his silly excuse. We know he is so afraid to have his feelings hurt. Remember earlier this year he professed that he feared marriage equality would mean “Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.”

The only people being treated negatively by the government, in this case SCOTUS, are all of us who are not “labeled” extremists, right-wingers, ultra-Christians, Trump supporters, and MAGA fanatics. If you fall under one of those categories, Sammy, along with his bigoted buddies Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and to a degree John Roberts — he’s too afraid to confront Thomas and Alito about their behavior.

Without the wimpy Roberts, the main five are the 21st-century Rat Pack — in this case more like rats or vermin as they refer to us — than even dirty, garbage- laden rats themselves.

This Rat Pack can fly their flags upside down, mouth off at a State of the Union address, accept luxury vacations and fishing trips from billionaires, and have their mother’s home paid for by lobbyists, among other sleazy and slimy salaciousness.

How, dear ones, can we trust this obnoxious and squalid Rat Pack to rule on the most sensitive issues that directly affect our lives? Is there any hope whatsoever for this court? Or more urgently, for us and democracy?

Ryan Adamczeski: As far as Clarence Thomas scandals go, this one’s closer to the bottom of the list for me. That’s the entire problem — he’s already gotten away with all of his most egregious offenses. We can’t trust the Supreme Court on an ethical level. They’ve proven it time and time again, and there are no consequences because there’s not really a system in place to hold justices accountable without overwhelming bipartisan support. Pretend for a second that we never had any laws against murder. I truly believe that in this day and age, you couldn’t propose anti-murder laws without getting pushback. It’s no wonder why SCOTUS’s approval rating is at an all-time low.

JC: Yes Ryan, that was evident in Alito’s questioning during the Trump immunity arguments before the court last month. Alito, along with Kavanaugh, seemed receptive to Trump’s argument, so theoretically, they’d be open to not prosecuting a president who committed a murder while in office. I guess, in an Alito world where an extremist president — who would no doubt be a white middle-aged man — is accused of killing someone, he could always blame his wife.

Christopher Wiggins: Imagine for a second that if anybody stepped foot into the Supreme Court (as I recently did covering the Trump immunity case) and offered up to the justices a weak excuse like “my wife did it.” They would laugh you out of court. It’s remarkable that in today’s political environment — well, maybe it’s to be expected more than it is remarkable — we have reached the point where Supreme Court justices are just leaking things to trap their colleagues amid case negotiations and blaming their spouses for supporting an insurrection. I mean, Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni, was in the middle of it all and that’s not even newsworthy any longer. Elections have consequences, and Republicans figured out decades ago that the most significant consequence of any election is the long-term condition of the Supreme Court. While it’s heartening to believe that the American people still do as the court says despite it having no real enforcement mechanism other than societal norms, it’s really alarming that in November we may lose democracy should Trump win, but even if he doesn’t, the country is still at the mercy of six conservatives whose worst inclinations are going unchecked.

JC: Well, I recently spoke to an older married gay couple in the U.S. for a story. Spoiler alert: They basically told me they have no fear about SCOTUS striking down marriage equality. They said that most of us would just ignore it, and continue to get married regardless of what the court says. Alito and Thomas keep threatening to do so, that’s why I think, with the way they handled abortion, the court will rule to make marriage a state issue, and then you just have this huge mess and division like what happened with abortion. Elections have consequences.

Trudy Ring: You’re right, John, Elections do have consequences, and perhaps the biggest consequence is the appointment of Supreme Court justices. The two Presidents Bush appear moderate and reasonable compared to Trump, but they really weren’t by any other measure. George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to the court, and his son George W. brought us Alito — nicknamed “Scalito” for his ideological similarity to the late Justice Antonin Scalia — and Roberts. Joe Biden hasn’t been perfect — who among us has? — especially in his handling of the Thomas confirmation hearings when he was a senator; however, in any case his colleagues had plenty of evidence that should have led them to reject Thomas, but they didn’t. Biden is so much better than the alternative that there’s no comparison, so vote for him in November because our democracy depends on it, and probably our lives too. And vote Democratic down the ticket!


Voices is dedicated to featuring a wide range of inspiring personal stories and impactful opinions from the LGBTQ+ and Allied community. Visit Advocate.com/submit to learn more about submission guidelines. We welcome your thoughts and feedback on any of our stories. Email us at voices@equalpride.com. Views expressed in Voices stories are those of the guest writers, columnists and editors, and do not directly represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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John Casey

John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.

Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.

Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).

Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.