Updated Nov 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Senate Judiciary panel to review 2014 Supreme Court leak claim

  Sen. Dick Durbin speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol May 24.

Sen. Dick Durbin speaks at the U.S. Capitol in May. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced his panel is reviewing "serious allegations" in a New York Times report Saturday that a 2014 Supreme Court ruling was leaked to a former anti-abortion activist weeks in advance.

The latest: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who chair courts subcommittees, wrote to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to ask whether any action had been taken over the alleged 2014 leak and suggested they'd investigate if not, Politico first reported Sunday night.

A screenshot of a Senate Judiciary Committee tweet announcing it's reviewing allegations of a 2014 leak of a Supreme Court decision weeks in advance.
Photo: Senate Judiciary Committee/Twitter
  • "If the Court, as your letter suggests, is not willing to undertake fact-finding inquiries into possible ethics violations that leaves Congress as the only forum," they wrote, in reference to earlier correspondence with Roberts about reports that a religious group had allegedly tried to influence justices.

Driving the news: Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote majority opinions in both the 2014 Hobby Lobby contraception and religious-liberty case and the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, has said any suggestion that he or his wife disclosed the 2014 ruling early to anyone was "false."

  • Former anti-abortion leader Rev. Rob Schenck told the NYT that Gayle Wright, a donor to the evangelical organization he then ran, informed him of the decision. However, Wright "denied obtaining or passing along any such information," the NYT reports.

What they're saying: Whitehouse and Johnson (D-Ga.) joined Durbin in urging fellow Congress members to pass legislation requiring a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices, AP reported Sunday evening.

  • In a statement, the lawmakers called the NYT report "another black mark on the Supreme Court's increasingly marred ethical record" and vowed to "get to the bottom of these serious allegations," per AP.

Read Sen. Whitehouse and Rep. Johnson's letter to Chief Justice Roberts, obtained by Politico, via DocumentCloud:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the letter from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Hank Johnson to Chief Justice John Roberts.

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