Congressional Democrats are applying pressure to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts regarding new allegations that Justice Samuel Alito leaked the result of an important 2014 case to conservative activists.
A letter sent to Roberts on Sunday by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said that the allegations against Alito point out an “inexcusable Supreme Court loophole in ethics rules.”
Alito has strongly denied that he has leaked any court information or decisions and said the new allegation is “completely false.”
#SupremeCourt Justice Samuel Alito denied being involved in an alleged leak of a #ReligiousFreedom decision 8 years ago, after a @NYTimes article reported the leak and alleged Alito's possible involvement.
Alito described the leak as a “grave betrayal.” https://t.co/HHQQFkCGL3
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) November 21, 2022
The Democratic lawmaker refer to a July letter sent by a former conservative activist turned pro-abortion advocate to Roberts making the allegation. The letter claims that Alito discussed the result the court would reach in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. before the decision was officially published.
Whitehouse and Johnson wrote that the new allegation “only deepens our concerns about the lack of adequate ethical and legal guardrails at the Court.” They went on to demand that Roberts disclose whether the court has “opened an investigation” into the allegation that Alito leaked the Hobby Lobby ruling.
The Democrats also called on Roberts to answer questions about whether justices have been provided dinners and travel as gifts from activists who might be seeking influence into decisions and whether donations to the Supreme Court Historical Society are being used to influence cases.
Alito has denied any leaking or other improper activity in the Hobby Lobby case involving former conservative religious activist Robert Schneck or conservative donor Gayle Wright. Alito said that the “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.”
Alito described his relationship with the Wrights as incidental to their strong support of the Supreme Court Historical Society. He said that he and his wife have “had a casual and purely social relationship” with the Wrights.
Alito also said that he has “never detected any effort” by the Wrights to influence him or to obtain any confidential court information. He said that he “would have strongly objected if they had done so.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) has joined in the Democratic chorus to cast a poor light on the court and its conservative members who voted this year to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
Durbin said that it is “unacceptable” that justices on the Supreme Court are exempted from the judicial code of ethics.
No public disclosures have yet been made about any findings by the court in its investigation of the leak this year of the draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case that overturned Roe when it was officially released in June.