Justice Alito denies allegation he was involved in a 2014 Supreme Court leak


Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is denying an allegation that he revealed prematurely the choice of a 2014 case regarding contraceptives and non secular rights.

The Recent York Times reported Saturday that Rev. Rob Schenck said he learned in regards to the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby weeks before it was announced by the court.

Schenck said he was informed of the choice soon after Gayle Wright, a donor to the evangelical nonprofit organization he was running called Faith and Motion, and her husband had dinner with Justice Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann Alito.

Alito authored the opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, wherein the court ruled in favor of two for-profit corporations that objected on religious grounds to a provision of the Reasonably priced Cart Act that requires employers to supply medical health insurance that features contraception coverage.

In an announcement to ABC News, Alito said the “allegation that the Wrights were told the final result of the choice within the Hobby Lobby case, or the authorship of the opinion of the Court, by me or my wife is totally false.”

Alito said he and his wife became acquainted with the Wrights “due to their strong support for the Supreme Court Historical Society, and since then, we have now had an off-the-cuff and purely social relationship.”

Schenck told the Times that the Wrights were a part of his effort to achieve inside access to the Supreme Court, which he said he did through donors and by doing favors for court “gatekeepers.”

In his statement to ABC News, Alito said he “never detected any effort on the a part of the Wrights to acquire confidential information or to influence anything that I did in either an official or private capability, and I might have strongly objected in the event that they had done so.”

Alito said he’d be “shocked and offended if those allegations are true.”

Associate Justice Samuel Alito sits during a gaggle photo of the Justices on the Supreme Court in Washington April 23, 2021.

Pool/Getty Images, FILE

Gayle Wright also denied obtaining or passing along any such information in a phone interview with the Times.

Schenck said he relayed this account to Chief Justice John Roberts in a letter after the court opened an investigation into the bombshell leak of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, wherein five of the court’s conservative justices decided to finish the constitutional right to abortion.

The draft opinion was leaked and reported first by Politico in May before it was released by the Supreme Court on June 24. Alito was also the creator of the bulk opinion.

Within the letter, also published by the Times, Schenck wrote to Roberts: “Considering there could also be a severe penalty to be paid by whoever is accountable for the initial leak of the recent draft opinion, I assumed this previous incident might bear some consideration by you and others involved in the method.”

Alliance for Justice, a progressive judicial 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, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.

“This Supreme Court’s extremism can be enough reason for the American people to lose faith within the judiciary and the rule of law. However the conservative justices are actually doing something far worse by flouting basic standards of propriety and lending credence to our best fear: that they’re acting in concert with essentially the most extreme elements of the conservative movement to advance an unpopular and un-American political agenda,” Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks said in an announcement in response to the Times report.

“It would take several major reforms to revive our trust on this broken institution,” Brooks said.

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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