Dem Lawmakers Push For SCOTUS Code Of Ethics

Months after the leak of a draft decision in the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of a landmark abortion rights case, a recent report indicates that a pro-life advocate received advanced knowledge of the outcome of a 2014 case.

According to The New York Times, Rev. Rob Schenck, who operated the Faith and Action organization at the time, was privy to the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case weeks before the ruling was made public.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in a 5-4 case that upheld the right of certain entities to opt out of health insurance mandates to provide access to contraceptives.

As Schenck explained, Gail Wright, who donated to the organization, advocated on behalf of a religious exemption to the healthcare regulation. He indicated that Wright met with Alito and subsequently shared the leaked information, though she denied any such actions.

In an interview over the weekend, Wright claimed that the “whole thing is unbelievably misconstrued,” adding: “Cases are never discussed, everybody knows that.”

Following the leak earlier this year, Schenck reportedly sent Chief Justice John Roberts a letter outlining the 2014 incident, which he believed could be an important factor as the court investigated the source of the leak.

In light of the recent news, Democrats on Capitol Hill are taking a fresh look at the Supreme Court. For his part, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the “serious allegations” necessitate new legislation that would hold the Supreme Court to certain ethical standards.

He was joined by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) in calling for the implementation of a code of ethics. They released a joint statement referring to the latest alleged leak as “another black mark on the Supreme Court’s increasingly marred ethical record.”

For his part, Alito has unequivocally denied that either he or his wife leaked any information to Wright or anyone else.

“I never detected any effort on the part of the Wrights to obtain confidential information or to influence anything that I did in either an official or private capacity, and I would have strongly objected if they had done so,” he asserted. “I have no knowledge of any project that they allegedly undertook for ‘Faith and Action,’ ‘Faith and Liberty,’ or any similar group, and I would be shocked and offended if those allegations are true.