Progressive judicial groups Demand Justice and Take Back The Court called on the Senate to open an investigation into U.S. Supreme Court Justice detailing the allegation that Alito leaked the outcome of the Hobby Lobby decision ahead of time at a dinner with Schenck’s Ohio donors, Gayle and Donald Wright, according to the Times.
The Hobby Lobby decision was a critical case for the religious right as it pursued the end of national abortion rights. The court’s 5-4 decision allowed private-held corporations to claim an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s reproductive health care mandate on the grounds of religious liberty. This advanced the anti-abortion cause and extended the grant of rights under the doctrine of corporate personhood.
Schenck’s revelations to the Times show that his effort to influence the court helped wealthy donors pierce the veil surrounding the least transparent branch of the federal government. He encouraged donors to contribute to the Supreme Court Historical Society to get closer to the justices. The late Justice Antonin Scalia and current Justices Clarence Thomas and Alito became friendly with Schenck’s donors.
The Supreme Court is the only court in the federal judiciary that is not bound by ethics or recusal rules. In recent years, Democrats in Congress have sought to enact legislation requiring the court to either abide by the ethics and recusal rules that cover the rest of the federal judicial branch or write new binding rules for themselves.