WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says his panel is considering “serious allegations” in a report that a former anti-abortion leader knew in advance of the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling. from 2014 case of medical management of contraception.
The Saturday report in the New York Times followed the stunning leak earlier this year of a draft notice in the case in which the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion. This decision was written by Judge Samuel Alitowho is also the author of the majority opinion in the 2014 case at the center of the new report.
In the Times article, Reverend Rob Schenck said he learned of the outcome of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores weeks before the decision was made public. In a 5-4 decision, Alito wrote that some companies with religious objections may avoid the requirement for contraceptives in President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.
Schenck, who previously led the Faith and Action group, said in other recent articles in Policy and rolling stone that it was part of a concerted effort to forge social and ministerial relationships with conservative judges.
In the Times article, Schenck said the information about Hobby Lobby’s decision came from Gail Wright, a donor to his organization who was part of the judges’ outreach effort and who had dined with Alito and his wife. Wright herself denied obtaining or sharing information in an interview with The Times.
The New York Times also published a letter Schenck said he wrote to Chief Justice John Roberts in July alerting him to the alleged violation years ago. Schenck wrote that he thought the information might be relevant to an investigation into the abortion ruling leak..
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Saturday that the committee is “reviewing these serious allegations,” and he called on fellow congressmen to pass a bill that would require the high court to adopt a code of ethics.
Two fellow Democrats, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, who chair the courts’ subcommittees, released a statement calling the Times report “another black mark on the growing ethics record.” tainted by the Supreme Court” and stated that they “intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations. They too have called for the adoption of a code of ethics.
The Times article included a categorical denial by Alito that he had leaked the outcome of the case. The court released Alito’s full statement to The Associated Press:
“The allegation that the Wrights were informed of the outcome of the decision in the Hobby Lobby case, or the authorship of the Court’s opinion, by me or my wife is completely false. My wife and I got to know the Wrights a few years ago because of their strong support for the Supreme Court Historical Society, and since then we’ve had an informal, purely social relationship.
“I never detected any effort on the part of the Wrights to obtain confidential information or to influence anything I did in an official or private capacity, and I would have strongly objected if they had. “I am not aware of any projects they have undertaken for ‘Faith and Action’, ‘Faith and Freedom’ or any other similar group, and I would be shocked and offended if these allegations are true,” he said. -he declares.
Schenck’s Faith and Action group became Faith and Freedom after joining Liberty Counsel in 2018.
Alito was appointed to the High Court in 2006 by President George W. Bush.