The Senate Judiciary Committee will review reports that Alito's Hobby Lobby decision was leaked to an anti-abortion leader: 'another black mark on the Supreme Court's increasingly marred ethical record'
- Anti-abortion leaders knew about a 2014 Supreme Court decision before it was official, NYT reported.
- Alito's Hobby Lobby decision on contraception would be the second of two known leaks from the court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating another potential leak out of the Supreme Court, following a New York Times report that said anti-abortion leaders knew about the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision before it was official.
The Times report, published Saturday, indicates Rev. Rob Schenck — an anti-abortion activist known for lobbying the Supreme Court — said in a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and in interviews with the Times that he was informed of the outcome of the 2014 case weeks before it was announced.
The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision held that corporations can refuse on religious grounds to pay for contraception as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
Schenck, an evangelical minister and leader of a group called Faith and Action, told Politico earlier this year that, between the years 1995 to 2018, he arranged for conservative couples to fly to Washington to share expensive dinners and evenings of entertainment with Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and the late Antonin Scalia. Couples involved in the "Operation Higher Court" program discussed conservative issues with the justices while taking care not to specifically mention current cases, according to Schenck.
Gayle Wright — who was among those who shared meals with the justices as part of the program — dined with Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann, in 2014 and, following a meeting with the justice, is reported to have told Schenck about the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case weeks before the majority decision was published, according to the Times report.
Justice Alito denied the allegations in a statement to the Associated Press, saying any "allegation that the Wrights were told the outcome of the decision in the Hobby Lobby case, or the authorship of the opinion of the Court, by me or my wife, is completely false."
If the Hobby Lobby leak is authenticated, it will be the second known leak from the Supreme Court. This summer, a draft opinion was leaked in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case that overturned abortion protections provided by Roe v. Wade.
The Dobbs decision was also authored by Alito.
Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement Saturday indicating the committee is "reviewing these serious allegations" and called on Congress to pass a bill requiring the high court to adopt a code of ethics.
AP reported Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia also issued a statement Saturday calling for a code of ethics for the highest court in the land, referring to the Times report as "another black mark on the Supreme Court's increasingly marred ethical record" and saying they "intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations."
Representatives for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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