A former anti-abortion leader claims he was informed of the conclusion of a 2014 case weeks before it was made public, according to a report published on Saturday in The New York Times. This revelation follows the massive leak of the draught ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade in May.
According to a letter he sent to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Rev. Rob Schenck, who oversaw an evangelical group in Washington, said he was briefed beforehand of the outcome of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a significant issue involving contraception and religious freedom.
The letter received no response from Roberts.
The article said that Schenck informed the president of Hobby Lobby, the case’s successful party and a Christian evangelical-owned craft store, of the ruling in order to prepare public relations materials. According to the report, Schenck said that a small number of advocates were also given access to the decision.
Similar to the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that established the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. in 1973, the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby judgement was a success for conservatives.
In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the court determined that forcing family-owned businesses to pay for insurance that covers contraception violates their right to exercise their religion.
In both cases, Justice Samuel Alito penned the majority opinion. In May, a draught of the majority opinion to overturn Roe was leaked, shocking the nation and inspiring advocates on all sides of the issue. The nation’s highest court was also affected, and an investigation was launched almost once to determine where the leak came from.
The veil of secrecy typically surrounding the court’s internal business was shattered by the unusual disclosure of Alito’s draught ruling. The court’s detractors, many of whom were already worried about the politicisation of the nation’s most powerful deliberative body, where justices are appointed for life, reacted angrily to it.
Schenck claims that it is not the first time that a decision has leaked, though. By utilising his faith and favouritism, Schenck claimed to have “worked for years” to acquire access to the court. Additionally, Justice Alito and his wife Martha-Ann dined with Donald and Gayle Wright, two of Schenck’s “star donors,” in 2014.
The Times said that one of the Wrights called Schenck the following day to inform him that Alito had penned the majority opinion and that Hobby Lobby would win the case. That particular decision was made public less than a month later. Requests for comment from Schenck did not immediately receive a response.
Alito claimed that the claim that the Wrights were informed of the case’s conclusion or the majority opinion is “absolutely incorrect” in a statement obtained by NBC News.
In the statement, Alito noted that he and his wife had a “casual and purely social contact” with the Wrights. “My wife and I got acquainted with the Wrights several years ago because of their strong support for the Supreme Court Historical Society,” he added. “I never noticed the Wrights making any attempt to learn sensitive information or to sway anything I did, either in my official or personal capacity, and I would have strongly objected if they had.
I have no knowledge of any initiative that they purportedly worked on for “Faith and Action,” “Faith and Liberty,” or any other comparable organisation, and if such accusations are accurate, I would be startled and insulted
According to the story, Schenck’s opinions on abortion have evolved recently, and he is attempting to portray himself as a more liberal evangelical figure. He claimed that his actions and knowledge of the case have left him feeling guilty, which is why he has chosen to come forward. He admitted to the Times that “what we did” was improper.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ s spokesman and the Supreme Court’s representatives did not respond right away.