In their latest attempt to question the “legitimacy” of a conservative Supreme Court, Democrats are pressuring Chief Justice John Roberts to address sketchy media reports accusing Justice Samuel Alito of leaking a 2014 decision dealing with contraception.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Roberts to open an investigation into Alito, saying the alleged leak raises “concerns” about “ethical and legal guardrails.”
Democrats target Alito over reported leak
A liberal pastor and former anti-abortion activist sent a letter to Roberts in July, shortly after the court struck down Roe v. Wade, claiming he received advanced warning of the court’s 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
Alito has dismissed Robert Schenck’s “completely false” claims that he leaked the outcome of that case, which dealt with religious liberty and companies’ obligation to provide contraception access, through a friend and conservative donor, Gayle Wright.
The story was reported in the New York Times, which has pushed a liberal narrative that the Supreme Court’s shift to the right has damaged its legitimacy.
In their letter, Johnson and Whitehouse said they wanted to know whether Roberts had “opened an investigation” into Alito.
“Recent reporting by the New York Times that the orchestrators of this judicial lobbying campaign may have used their access to certain justices to secure confidential information about pending cases only deepens our concerns about the lack of adequate ethical and legal guardrails at the Court.”
The left’s never-ending intimidation
Politico reported that they were “unable to locate anyone who heard about the decision directly from either Alito or his wife,” and Wright has also disputed Schenck’s account.
Schenck’s claims are the latest to impugn the character of the court’s conservatives, who have faced rising attacks on their reputations and threats to their safety in recent years.
The leak in May of the Supreme Court’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade led to protests outside the homes of conservative justices and a plot to kill Brett Kavanaugh. Alito called the leak, which was downplayed by Democrats, a “grave betrayal of trust by somebody” that endangered the justices’ lives.
“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority … targets for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us,” Alito said at a talk with the Heritage Foundation in October.
The Supreme Court opened an investigation into the leak, but the person responsible has not been identified.