Samuel Alito Knew Exactly What That Upside-Down American Flag Meant

As for the Appeal to Heaven flag, also known as the Pine Tree flag, Alito again attributed the decision solely to his wife. “My wife is fond of flying flags,” he wrote. “I am not.” He noted that his wife flies a wide range of national, international, civic, historical, and patriotic flags, and that he was not aware of the Appeal to Heaven flag’s other meanings when she flew it at their beach house. “She did not fly it to associate herself with that or any other group, and the use of an old historic flag by a new group does not necessarily drain that flag of all other meanings,” he added.

I’ll start with the second one. I initially assumed that the decision to fly the Appeal to Heaven flag was an ideologically charged one. It is not a commonly flown flag these days, and when it is flown, it is typically done to express a certain political viewpoint. If flown in isolation, an observer could reasonably assume that it was for its modern political appropriation. That assumption would be stronger if the flag were flown on multiple days, by itself, or on specific days that might be politically significant.

However, if the justice’s wife is a genuine flag enthusiast and she flew the Appeal to Heaven flag in combination with other patriotic and historic ones, then it is more plausible that she flew it for its historical significance. Flying multiple flags always diminishes their individual meanings. Raising an individual Mexican flag or Confederate flag or French flag in Texas, for example, sends a different message than flying the “six flags over Texas” in combination with each other. A reasonable person would also not assume that the United Nations is expressing favoritism for any particular country because it flies all of its member flags outside its headquarters in New York.

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Kim browne

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