An arch-conservative Supreme Court Justice from New Jersey is at the center of a scandal for possibly leaking secret advance copies of controversial decisions in key abortion and birth control cases that have bitterly divided the nation.
A former anti-abortion activist said Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaked the details of a 2014 ruling on contraception and religious rights several weeks before the landmark case was decided publicly.
Rob Schenck, a longtime anti-abortion activist and minister, claims Alito leaked the high court’s controversial ruling allowing employers to deny access to contraception based on religious rights weeks before it was announced.
Schneck reportedly shared that information with Hobby Lobby, the evangelical-run craft store chain that brought the case before the court, and used it to prepare a public relations push.
If true, the allegations mean that before stripping away fundamental freedoms religious zealots had time to prepare a polished PR campaign to go on a moral crusade.
The disclosure comes six months after publication of the draft ruling that eventually overturned the precedent guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion.
Alito authored the opinion that overturned the landmark Roe v Wade decision, a 49-year-old precedent guaranteeing a federal constitutional right to privacy, which forbid government interference with a woman’s freedom to choose abortion.
Alito denied allegations that he or his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, played a role in revealing the outcome of a pending Supreme Court case in 2014.
Schenck, once an evangelical minister and prominent anti-abortion activist, has since become disillusioned with the religious right, changed denominations and now says he regrets many of his prior activities.
Schenck said he was informed about the decision in the Hobby Lobby case by Gayle Wright, the wife of a wealthy real estate developer and founder of a successful furniture business, Don Wright.
Raised in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, and educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School, Alito served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit before joining the Supreme Court as the 110th justice.
Alito has authored majority opinions in landmark cases including McDonald v. Chicago, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Murphy v. NCAA, Janus v. AFSCME, and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.