Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told private dinner companions how the high court would rule in the landmark 2014 case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, according to a bombshell report in The New York Times.
The dinner companions, who were wealthy donors to an evangelical Christian nonprofit, reportedly tipped off the minister who led the nonprofit, Rev. Rob Schenck, who told the Times he later informed the CEO of Hobby Lobby.
Schenck also used the information “undetectably” to assist “in preparing for the inevitable announcement” of the court’s decision, which he wrote in a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts earlier this year which was obtained and published by the Times.
The 2014 case prompted the court to decide whether requiring a company to provide contraception as part of its health coverage violated religious freedom protections. Hobby Lobby’s conservative Christian owners said they were opposed to contraception use.
The result was a victory for the craft store chain and religious conservatives ― much like the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, rolling back abortion rights for millions of people.
Alito denies tipping the court’s hand eight years ago, the Times reported. But the accusation comes at a contentious moment where swaths of the nation have questions about the court’s legitimacy and its station above politics.
Schenck turned whistleblower this year after the Supreme Court’s monumental decision against abortion rights was leaked in draft form to Politico, sparking nationwide protests. Roberts said the court was investigating that leak, but no further developments have been shared with the public.
In his letter to the chief justice, Schenck wrote, “Considering there may be a severe penalty to be paid by whoever is responsible for the initial leak of the recent draft opinion, I thought this previous incident might bear some consideration by you and others involved in the process.”
He added: “Of course, I would be happy to fully cooperate should you find any value in other details surrounding what I have transmitted here.”
Schenck signed the letter, “Yours in the interest of truth and fairness.”
He told The New York Times he has not received any response.