Why the Georgia outflow could have an outsized impact on a Supreme Court leak inquiry

The fate of the Georgia Senate runoff could have lasting implications for Congress’ ability to probe the nation’s highest court after a prominent report claimed Justice Samuel Alito may have leaked a 2014 Supreme Court opinion.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the committee would consider “serious allegations” afterward New York Times reported claims that Alito may have been the result of the leaked Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Fall to a wealthy conservative couple before the final opinion was released this year. Both Alito and the couple in question have denied such allegations in separate statements.

Such claims came from former evangelical minister and anti-abortion leader Rev. Rob Schenck, who told the outlet Gayle Wright and her husband, donors to the evangelical organization he founded, had him weeks before the Supreme Court’s June announcement of the decision informed 30th, 2014.


Several Democratic lawmakers reacted with alarm to Schenck’s claims, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (GA), who chair subcommittees in their respective chambers in federal courts. The couple issued a joint statement claiming New York Times The report was “another black spot in the Supreme Court’s increasingly tainted ethical record” and said they “intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations.”

Part of Schenck’s allegations suggested that information about the 2014 decision came from a dinner with the Wrights along with Alito and his wife Martha-Ann at the Alitos’ Virginia home after the Wrights made significant donations to the Supreme Court Historical Society had done.

Alito, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President George W. Bush in 2006, issued a statement calling Schenck’s claims “completely false” while acknowledging his social relationship with the couple. But Whitehouse and Johnson nonetheless wrote a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts demanding to know if the court “opened an investigation” into Alito’s alleged leak of the data hobby lobby Ruling signaling interest in an outside party to provide answers as to whether the 2014 decision was leaked ahead of its release.

“It may be helpful in resolving these issues if the court appoints a person knowledgeable on these issues to testify to us as to the existence or non-existence and nature, if any, of any proceedings involving investigations, investigations and findings of Facts guide questions related to ethics or reporting of judge behavior issues,” wrote Whitehouse and Johnson.

The Democratic lawmakers also asked for the identities of those “who oversee the relationship between the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Historical Society to ensure that paid membership in the Society is not abused as a means of gaining improper influence.”

Responding to the request through a court clerk, Roberts filed a two-page statement about the Supreme Court’s ethical practices without addressing some of the specific questions raised by the two lawmakers.

The investigation into Alito comes just six months after the judiciary wrote down the consequent 6-3 decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationwhich set almost 49 years of precedent for restricting access to abortion below Roe v. calf. That opinion was also clouded by a leak to the press in early May, an incident that drew scrutiny from conservative groups and lawmakers and an investigation into the leak by the Supreme Court.

Some opinion commentators on the left have now called for Alito’s impeachment, including Bill Press, who claimed Tuesday that “Republicans in Congress and the right-wing media haven’t bleeped a whistle” over recent events New York Times Report. But Carrie Severino, president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said the outlet “ran with the unsubstantiated claim of facilitating a crackdown on Justice Alito.”

The Georgia runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and his Republican opponent Herschel Walker will decide whether the Senate remains a 50-50 split with the Vice President’s landmark vote, or whether Democrats will enjoy a 51-49 majority that it would give members of the Senate Judiciary Committee more powers to subpoena witnesses. The runoff will take place on December 6 and statewide early voting will begin on November 28.

Because of the 50-50 Senate’s power-sharing agreement, the committee can only issue subpoenas on a bipartisan basis, meaning that if Democrats win a 51st seat, voting to subpoena a witness becomes a much easier task and Republicans the thwarting would prohibit any attempt to subpoena a witness.

“We’ve accomplished a lot, but with an extra senator, we can do even more,” Durbin said Associated Press.


With Democrats losing control of the House in the midterm elections, Johnson will lose the gavel of the House Judiciary Committee subcommittee that oversees the courts in January. But because Democrats have retained control of the Senate, Durbin and Whitehouse have a better chance of leading the focus of the upper chamber hearings.

That Washington Examiner made several attempts to contact Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a response, including Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Josh Hawley (MO).