The road to theocracy

What a coincidence. The same “Appeal to Heaven” flag that has flown outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s New Jersey shore home, Rolling Stone reported last week, also proudly flutters outside the Maine mansion of his close friend, Federal Society co-founder Leonard Leo. The most powerful American most Americans have never heard of, Leo is the primary architect of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority. He gave Donald Trump the Federalist Society-vetted names of Neil Gor such, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, and fought to get Alito, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas confirmed. It’s no exaggeration to call Leo, an ultra-conservative Catholic, a theocrat. His mission, he says, is to defeat the “unchurched” and “vile and immoral current-day barbarians, secularists, and bigots” whom “the devil” is using to move society away from its “natural order.” In recent years, Leo has joined evangelical Christian Trump supporters in embracing the 18th-century “Appeal to Heaven” flag as a defiant symbol of their belief that America must be freed from the tyranny of secular progressives. 

Alito is again claiming his wife is “solely responsible” for flying the flag, but its message matches his stated views and rulings. Alito has said that “religious liberty is worth special protection,” and that a “new moral code” — requiring tolerance for LGBTQ rights, gay marriage, and reproductive freedom — poses a threat to the “core beliefs” of Catholics like him. It was Alito, of course, who wrote the majority decision to overturn Roe — a fulfillment of Leo’s four-decades-long campaign. Two-thirds of Americans disagreed with that ruling, but Alito and Leo answer to a higher authority than mere democracy. In a second term, Trump has promised to give far-right Christian nationalists even greater power. “We have to bring back our religion,” Trump recently told them. “We have to bring back Christianity.” Sounds like an appeal to heaven. 

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