Justice Alito’s Beach Home Neighbors Sound Off on That Jan. 6 Flag

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Long Beach Island, New Jersey—About 45 minutes past the Garden State Parkway’s Judy Blume Service Area, itself precisely 24 miles southeast of the Jon Bon Jovi Service Area, the original Ron Jon Surf Shop appears, like a Jersey Shore apparition, just off Route 72.

Roughly 15 minutes down Ocean County Road 607, beyond Boulevard Clams and Lenny & John’s Subs—if you pass Mustache Bill’s Diner, you’ve gone too far—sits an unremarkable beach house on a cul-de-sac by Barnegat Bay.

What set it apart from the others on the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend was the federal agent sitting outside in an unmarked Ford Taurus with dark tinted windows and U.S. government plates. Because the four-bedroom, three-bathroom Long Beach Island property is where the New Jersey-born-and-raised Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his wife Martha spend their summers.

“I’m sorry, I can’t say anything about that,” the stern-faced U.S. Marshal behind the wheel replied to a question about any recent security issues.

The gray-shingled residence appeared empty when The Daily Beast visited earlier this week. A small fishing boat sat in the driveway, still wearing its blue plastic shrink wrap from the winter, but no cars. The house was dark, the shades drawn, the two chairs on the rooftop widow’s walk, both facing south, unoccupied. Perhaps most striking, however, was the bare nautical flagpole out back, devoid of a single flag.

This past Wednesday, the Alitos’ choice of flags became a national flashpoint when The New York Times published photographs of a “provocative” one seen flying outside the house in July and September of 2023. The pictures showed an “Appeal to Heaven” flag at the top of the Alitos’ flagpole, a Revolutionary War-era banner that has lately come to denote support for former President Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen 2020 election. As a Supreme Court justice, Alito will soon be helping to decide if Trump supporters, who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to subvert the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win, can be prosecuted on charges of obstructing an official proceeding.

An Appeal To Heaven Flag flying at the Alitos’ house in August 2023.

An Appeal To Heaven Flag flying at the Alitos’ house in August 2023.

Google Maps

“We all have our biases, but the good judge fights against them,” Indiana University law professor Charles Geyh told the Times. “When a judge celebrates his predispositions by hoisting them on a flag, that’s deeply disturbing.”

The Appeal to Heaven flag is also a symbol co-opted of late by Christian nationalists seeking to create a Bible-based federal government. Because Alito authored the majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, a massive win for conservative Christians, his apparent decision to hoist the Appeal to Heaven flag stunned a large portion of the American populace—especially since the news came just days after photos emerged of an upside-down American flag flying outside of Alito’s primary residence in Virginia, another nod to Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement. (Alito, who has not commented publicly on the flag seen at his seaside vacation home, blamed the upside-down flag on his wife.)

Legal experts were highly disturbed by the brazen partisanship suggested by a supposedly impartial jurist seated on the highest court in the land, as were several of Alito’s neighbors who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity so as not to create enmity with a person who is among the most powerful in the entire nation.

One woman, who can see the Alito home from her windows, said she objected strongly to seeing the Appeal to Heaven flag on his property.

“I don’t think you should be flying a flag showing his political position when you’ve got a job like he does, where you need to be impartial,” she said. “He’s entitled to his opinion, but I don’t think it should be so obvious when you’re a Supreme Court justice.”

Another local, who grew up in the area but now lives in the Pacific Northwest, was having lunch at Kubel’s, a casual spot nearby Alito’s house that was namechecked on TV by the late Anthony Bourdain. Sitting beside a clutch of family members, who still reside in town, “Marsha” said the flag “showed [Alito’s] bias.” These days, she went on, “People feel like they’re entitled to do anything they want. And the only opinion that matters is their own.”

“How far do we go before we normalize a lot of abnormal behavior?” asked “Stan,” a longtime South Jersey resident. “I’d say there are no words, but there are words.”

Alito’s flag-flying struck him as “about as dishonest as it gets.”

“Confidence in the judiciary has been shaken down to its bedrock,” the man said. “What [the right-wing] is really good at, is being really bad.”

New Jersey-born-and-raised Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his wife Martha spend their summers on the Jersey Shore.

New Jersey-born-and-raised Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his wife Martha spend their summers on the Jersey Shore.

Justin Rohrlich

A man out for an early afternoon walk on Alito’s street said he has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years, but has only seen Alito a handful of times. He described stopping at an intersection and seeing Alito about to make a turn into his lane. The man, whom we’ll call Henry, motioned for Alito to go first, as the rules of the road dictated in that situation. But Alito insisted Henry pull out before he did, “because he didn’t want me behind him,” according to Henry.

“He’s probably very concerned about his own safety,” Henry said. “Ever since Roe v. Wade [was overturned], there have been guards sitting outside his house.” (Protesters wearing outfits inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale gathered in front of the home in May 2022 to protest a leaked draft of Alito’s forthcoming Roe v. Wade opinion.)

As for the Appeal to Heaven flag, Henry described the area as conservative. Still, he said, “Like anywhere else, there are people for it, and there are people against it.”

One resident, who lives a few doors down from Alito, sees the justice and his wife “once in a while,” but said, with a laugh, that they “don’t socialize with the likes of me.”

Martha Alito is “a very friendly lady,” and “always waves when she goes by,” he said.

Alito ended up in the area, according to the neighbor, who gave his name as Eddie, through a high-school friend in Trenton who now runs a successful commercial scallop fishing operation in town.

“That was the attraction,” he said.

The house was redone in 2013, which Alito “bought from a friend and not through a local real estate agency,” according to local reports which seem to confirm Eddie’s narrative. The Alitos moved in the following year, according to photos of the renovation and a review of public records.

Justice Alito’s Jan. 6 Flags Are a Desperate Wake-Up Call for the DOJ

Eddie said he is a political independent, and voted for Obama twice. However, he doesn’t particularly like Biden, which admittedly hews more toward what he said was a general right-leaning tone of the surrounding area.

But the controversy over the Appeal to Heaven flag hadn’t been on Eddie’s radar at all, he said—that is, until news reporters started showing up earlier in the day.

An upcoming demonstration against the “summering” justice is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 at Alito’s house.

“Protest Samuel Alito, arrogant American leader from New Jersey at his beach home,” the event notice tells prospective attendees. “Led by pissed off neighbors.”

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