Inside the Clash That Prompted the Alitos’ Upside-Down Flag – The New York Times

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Inside the escalating conflict on a bucolic suburban street that Justice Alito said prompted a “Stop the Steal” symbol at his home.

The police in Fairfax County, Va., received an unusual phone call on Feb. 15, 2021. A young couple claimed they were being harassed by the wife of a Supreme Court justice.

“Somebody in a position of authority needs to talk to her and make her stop,” said the 36-year-old man making the complaint, according to a recording of the call reviewed by The New York Times. The officer on the line responded that there was little the police could do: Yelling was not a crime.

The couple placed the call after a series of encounters with Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., that had gone from uneasy to ugly. That day, Emily Baden, whose boyfriend (now husband) contacted the police, had traded accusations with Mrs. Alito, who lived down the street. In a recent interview, Ms. Baden admitted to calling her a lewd epithet.

The clash between the wife of a conservative Supreme Court justice and the couple, who were in their 30s, liberal and proud of it, played out over months on a bucolic block in Alexandria. It was the kind of shouting match among private citizens, at the height of tensions over the 2020 election, that might have happened in any mixed political community in America. But three years later, that neighborhood spat — which both sides said began over an anti-Trump sign — has taken on far greater proportions.

The Times reported this month that Justice Alito’s household flew an upside-down flag, which had been adopted as a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” campaign, in January 2021. The justice, who did not participate in the contentious neighborhood exchanges, cited the dispute as the reason his wife had raised the flag.

The conflict in the Virginia neighborhood does not explain why a second flag associated with the Jan. 6 riot, as well as with a Christian nationalist movement, later flew at the Alitos’ New Jersey beach house. The justice has offered no explanation for that flag, which The Times reported on last week.

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