The Separation of Church and State

Supreme Court Justice Alito agrees that America needs ‘godliness’

  Rob Boston

Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito has struck again.

On the heels of revelations that Alito and his wife flew a controversial, Christian Nationalist “Appeal to Heaven” flag at their vacation home, a report has surfaced showing that during a private event, Alito agreed that America needs to embrace “godliness.”

Lauren Windsor, a progressive activist, attended a June 3 meeting of the Supreme Court Historical Society, of which she is a dues-paying member. During the event, Windsor approached Alito and engaged him in a discussion about political polarization in America. Posing as a conservative, she surreptitiously recorded the conversation.

A return to ‘godliness’

”I think that the solution really is like winning the moral argument,” Windsor said. “Like, people in this country who believe in God have got to keep fighting for that, to return our country to a place of godliness.”

To this Alito replied, “Well, I agree with you. I agree with you.”

Windsor then asked Alito about bridging the divide in America, asserting that it might not be possible to compromise with “the left.” He responded, “I think you’re probably right. One side or the other is going to win. I don’t know. I mean, there can be a way of working – a way of living together peacefully, but it’s difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised. They really can’t be compromised. So, it’s not like you are going to split the difference.”

‘I have to look at a Pride flag’

Windsor gave the recording to Rolling Stone, which wrote about it yesterday. (The magazine’s story is behind a paywall.) Today, a new recording Windsor made at the event of Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann Alito, was released. Mrs. Alito said she wanted to fly a Catholic flag at their home in response to an LGBTQ+ Pride flag in the neighborhood: “You know what I want? I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month.”

Windsor also approached Chief Justice John G. Roberts at the event and asked him some similar questions that she posed to Justice Alito. But Roberts didn’t agree that the country is unusually polarized right now, pointing to instances of polarization in the past. When Windsor asked Roberts if the court should put the country on a “moral path,” he replied, “Would you want me to be in charge of putting the nation on a more moral path? That’s for people we elect. That’s not for lawyers.” Roberts also rejected Windsor’s assertion that America is a Christian nation and cited the views of “Jewish and Muslim friends.” (We’ve come to quite a pass when Roberts, who’s hardly a friend to separation of church and state, is seen as the voice of reason.)

Justice on a moral crusade

Bottom line: We have a Supreme Court justice who agrees that it’s important to “return our country to a place of godliness.” Instead of upholding the Constitution, Alito seems to be on a moral crusade.

This incident underscores the pressing need for ethics reform at the Supreme Court and a national recommitment to the separation of church and state. Otherwise, justices like Alito will continue to wander into areas that are simply not in their job description.

P.S. Several legal experts, including Americans United Vice President of Strategic Communications Andrew L. Seidel, have weighed in on this matter. You can read their thoughts here.

Photo: Groups rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court to demand an investigation into Justice Alito. Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images.


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