Alito’s Latest Leak Allegations Highlight Supreme Court’s Lack of Ethics
Alito, of course, denies the whole story, admitting to a “casual, purely social relationship” with Wright, but saying the allegation that he revealed the Hobby Lobby result “completely untrue”.
It’s part of a much bigger problem, that the Court’s conservatives follow an overtly political path, but also act as political actors, open to lobbying and outside influence. Schenk proved it. He secured a building directly across from the Court, he recruited like-minded forced-born mucky-mucks to hang out at receptions and events for the Court – favorite target being the Supreme Court Historical Society – and be part of the judges. inner circles.
He worked with judges Antonin Scalia, Alito and Clarence Thomas. The Wrights, the couple who got the hobby hall escape, become part of the social circle for all three, share meals with them and their families, host the Alitos during the holidays at their Jackson Hole home, and get seats in the courtroom to attend court hearings.
Meanwhile, the Court stands above the fray, insisting it checked the rules for all of this activity and found itself innocent. Alito, of course, denies the whole story, admitting to a “casual, purely social relationship” with Wright, but saying the allegation that he revealed the Hobby Lobby result “completely untrue”.
That’s not good enough for congressional Democrats. Senator Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, released a statement announcing that the Committee is “reviewing these serious allegations, which once again expose the inexcusable ‘Supreme Court loophole’ in federal judicial ethics rules.” He called on Congress to pass the Supreme Court Ethics Act that would require the court to adopt a code of ethics.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), who chair the Senate and House Courts subcommittees, wrote to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts asking him to investigate this potential leak and suggesting that if he doesn’t, they will. The couple had previously written to Roberts following reports from Schenck’s Faith and Action group in Policy and rolling stone on the intensive lobbying efforts that his group undertook to influence the judges.
A Supreme Court ethics lawyer responded to the pair, outlining the court’s policies and practices but not addressing their specific concerns. “An answer pointing to the existence of rules does not answer questions about whether those rules have been broken,” Whitehouse and Johnson wrote in their new letter.
“It appears that the underlying problem is the lack of a formal complaint or investigation mechanism for possible ethics or reporting violations. …. If the Court, as your letter suggests, n is unwilling to undertake investigative inquiries into possible ethics violations, this leaves Congress as the only forum.
In a statement, the pair called the new report “a further black mark on the Supreme Court’s increasingly tainted ethical record” and said they “intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations”. They joined Durbin in calling on Congress to force the Court to adopt a code of ethics.
This is the minimum that must be done. The judicial commissions should undertake thorough investigations into Alito’s ties to this group and this potential leak. Thomas is also expected to be investigated for his conflicts of interest around January 6. Congressional Democrats should use the next two years to advocate for serious judicial reforms, including but not limited to expanding the courts. Nothing can pass with a Republican House, but they can lay the groundwork and start advocating for future reform. It might even be enough of a threat to restrict the Court, just a little.
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