Justice Alito Leaked SCOTUS Contraception Ruling in 2014: NYT

  • An anti-abortion leader said he was informed in advance of the 2014 Supreme Court Hobby decision, according to the New York Times.
  • Rob Schenck suggested that two donors were informed of the outcome at a dinner with Justice Samuel Alito.
  • Alito has denied the allegations, which come after the Dobbs draft opinion was leaked in June.

A former prominent anti-abortion leader told Supreme Court Justice John Roberts that he was informed of the outcome of the 2014 Hobby Lobby contraception case weeks before the decision was made public, according to the New York Times.

In a letter sent to Supreme Court Justice John Roberts last July, the Reverend Rob Schenck told the jurist that he was informed of the decision before the official announcement, suggesting an extraordinary breach of court rules. It seems similar to the leak of the draft opinion in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in May. The court’s final decision, overturning Roe v. Wade, came the following month.

In the 2014 Hobby Lobby contraception case, the justices — in a 5-4 decision — ruled that requiring family-owned companies to pay the cost of insurance to cover contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated religious liberties. According to records obtained by The Times, Schenck used his knowledge of the decision to plan a public relations attack.

Schenck also said that shortly before the decision was announced, he told Hobby Lobby chairman Steve Green about what had been revealed to him about the case.

According to Schenck, the outcome of the Hobby Lobby case was known only to a very small number of people.

The Dobbs and Hobby Lobby decisions were both major victories for conservative politicians and activists, with Associate Justice Samuel Alito leading the writing of the majority opinions in both cases.

But the leak of the Dobbs decision, which was first reported by Politico, was met with furious response across the country. Some conservatives celebrated the court’s sign of overturning Roe, but also sharply criticized the leak. Pro-choice activists rallied against the move and galvanized midterm voters as the issue returned to individual states for regulation.

In the letter to Roberts, Schenck spoke about the process by which the disclosure of the Hobby Lobby case took place.

“Back in June 2014, when so many were waiting for the Court’s opinion Burwell V. Hobby Lobby, I was told by a donor to the Capitol-based nonprofit I lead that she and her husband would be having dinner at the home of Justice and Mrs. Alito. He suggested that in their conversation at the dinner table, he might be able to learn the status of the case, which he knew I was interested in knowing,” he wrote.

“I received a follow-up message from her informing me that she had indeed received the information during that visit. We spoke on the phone and she explained the revelation,” he continued. “As I recall, we talked about the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, and how they would be interested in this information as well.”

Justice Samuel Alito

Associate Justice Samuel Alito sits during a group photo of justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.

Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Schenck created an explosive situation where a religious official who had spent years cultivating relationships among anti-abortion leaders now revealed a damning allegation, with a sitting justice dismissing all knowledge of the charge and the high court still unsure who leaked the Dobbs abortion plan this year.

“If you want some interesting news, call”

The Times, after reviewing emails and conversations, said it found statements that “strongly suggest” that Schenck was aware of the decision and the author of the Hobby Lobby decision weeks before the decision hit the news.

Schenck told the Times that after sending the letter, which he said could help the investigation Roberts launched into the leak of the Dobbs draft opinion, he has yet to receive a response.

The New York Times reviewed a June 2014 email from Schenck donor Gayle Wright — who had dined with her husband with Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann — in which she contacted the minister saying she was “interested news’ to share.

“Rob, if you want some interesting news, call. No email,” Wright wrote, according to the Times report.

Schenck told the Times that Wright informed him that the high court’s ruling would be “favorable” to Hobby Lobby, the national arts and crafts retailer.

And later in June, the court followed that very path, with a majority of justices agreeing that requiring closely held companies to fund contraceptives in employee insurance plans was a violation of religious liberties.

Alito, in a statement to the Times, provided through a court spokesman, said that while he had a “casual and purely social relationship” with the Wrights, he confirmed that “the claim that the Wrights were informed of the outcome of the decision in Hobby The case lobbying or the writing of the Court’s opinion, by me or my wife, is completely false.”

Gayle Wright told the Times that she did not provide any information about Hobby Lobby’s decision in advance.

Hobby Lobby has yet to comment on the Times report.

And the Supreme Court did not elaborate on Schenck’s letter or its investigation into the leaking of the Dobbs plan, according to the newspaper.

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