Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito denies an allegation that he pre-disclosed the decision of a 2014 case involving contraceptives and religious rights.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that the Reverend Rob Schenck said he learned of the ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby weeks before it was announced by the court.
Schenck said he was told of the decision shortly after Gayle Wright, a donor to the evangelical nonprofit he ran, Faith and Action, and her husband had dinner with Judge Alito and his wife, Martha. -Ann Alito.
Alito is the author of the opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in which the court ruled in favor of two for-profit corporations that objected on religious grounds to a provision of the Affordable Carts Act that requires employers to provide health insurance that includes contraception coverage.
In a statement to ABC News, Alito said “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 woman is completely wrong”.
Alito said he and his wife got to know the Wrights “because of their strong support for the Supreme Court Historical Society, and since then we’ve had a casual, purely social relationship.”
Schenck told The Times that the Wrights were part of his effort to gain inside access to the Supreme Court, which he said he did through donors and by doing favors for the court’s “guardians.”
In his statement to ABC News, Alito said he “never detected any effort on the part of the Wrights to obtain confidential information or to influence anything that I did in an official or private capacity, and I would have strongly objected if they had done so then.”
Alito said he would be “shocked and offended if these allegations were true.”
Gayle Wright also denied obtaining or passing on any such information in a phone interview with The Times.
Schenck said he passed that account on to Chief Justice John Roberts in a letter after the court opened an investigation into the explosive leak of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which five conservative judges on the court decided to terminate the Constitution. right to abortion.
The draft notice was leaked and was first reported by Politico in May before being made public by the Supreme Court on June 24. Alito was also the author of the majority opinion.
In the letter, also published by The Times, Schenck wrote to Roberts: “Given that there could be a severe fine to be paid by whoever is responsible for the initial leak of the recent draft notice, I thought that this previous incident may warrant some consideration by you and others involved in the process.”
Alliance for Justice, a progressive legal advocacy group, said the Times report adds to a growing list of ethical concerns surrounding the Supreme Court – including the political activism of Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas .
“The extremism of this Supreme Court would be reason enough for the American people to lose faith in the justice system and the rule of law. But conservative justices are now doing something much worse by flouting basic standards of propriety and giving credence to our greatest fear: that they are acting in concert with the most extreme elements of the conservative movement to advance an unpopular and anti-American political agenda,” said Justice Alliance President Rakim HD Brooks, in a statement responding to the Times report.
“It will take several major reforms to restore our faith in this broken institution,” Brooks said.
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.