Rumors and speculation: Liberal media spins hearsay that Justice Alito leaked 2014 Hobby Lobby decision

While we still don’t know who leaked the Supreme Court draft opinion of the Dobbs decision, which signaled the end of the unconstitutional 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, the liberal media is determined to finger Justice Samuel Alito, not just for Dobbs, but for an alleged leak of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which, in 2014, challenged the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring employment-based group health care plans to cover FDA-approved contraceptive methods.

As American Wire reported, the allegations against Alito stem from a recent New York Times article that pointed to a June 2022 letter from Rev. Robert L. Schenck to Chief Justice John Roberts. The former anti-abortion leader claimed that, in 2014, “a donor to the Capitol Hill-based non-profit organization” he led was told the outcome of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby weeks before it was officially announced.

Schenck allegedly learned of the leak from his “star donors,” Gayle Wright and her husband, who were dinner guests of Justice and Mrs. Alito.

In the letter, Schenck claims he kept the “sensitive information” quiet, but “a day or two before the opinion was released,” he called Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green “and reported what I knew of the Court’s finding.”

The Times jumped on the unverified contents of this letter to tie Alito to the Dobbs leak.

“Both court decisions were triumphs for conservatives and the religious right,” reported authors Jodi Kantor and Jo Becker. “Both majority opinions were written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.”

While Alito admits he dined with the Wrights, he has denied divulging any information about the case.

But that hasn’t stopped the media from reporting on Schenck’s claims as though they are proven fact, and now, Slate is attempting to use them to indict Schenck himself, along with the entire GOP.

“Schenck’s story is bigger than Hobby Lobby,” writes Mary Ziegler for Slate. “It’s a tale of insider access to the nation’s most powerful judges. And it bears remarkable similarities to the broader arc of the successful crusade against Roe v. Wade. Opponents of reproductive rights have long understood that money buys access—to state legislatures, to Congress, and yes, to the Supreme Court—while access buys power.”

“If Schenck is telling the truth,” Ziegler states ominously, “then he and his allies simply ran the GOP donor playbook on a justice who proved more than susceptible.”

That’s a mighty big “if.”

Even Ziegler admits Alito “categorically denied leaking the information, and the Wrights did the same.” She also notes that “Schenck wasn’t in the room when the conversation between the Wrights and the Alitos went down.”

But that doesn’t stop her from using Schenck’s comments to launch into a stunningly hypocritical piece about “influence-peddling” and “dark money”:

The story resonates because the fight to erase abortion rights has long intersected with battles over influence-peddling and money in politics. It all began with the relationship forged between the anti-abortion movement and the Republican Party in the early 1980s. After Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion activists had hoped that Republicans would help them amend the Constitution to ban abortion across the country, but that attempt had failed. The anti-abortion movement reversed course, seeking to control the Supreme Court rather than rewrite the Constitution.

Anti-abortion activists were particularly invested in fights about dark money. They had reason to worry about donor disclosure, after all. Their movement at times promoted restrictions that played well with the public, but the ultimate goal remained the recognition of fetal personhood—the idea of fetal rights that would make abortion itself unconstitutional. That idea had always been deeply unpopular; polls consistently showed that only between 12 and 20 percent of Americans wanted to ban all abortions (with possible exceptions for the life of the pregnant person). Donors who supported personhood might not want that known to their colleagues, families, or friends.

 

This is at a time when the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX is revealing questionable, multi-million-dollar donations to the Democrats.

And at a time when Americans know without question that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg flooded states with “Zuck Bucks” to “fortify” the 2020 elections.

Ziegler then writes about “grassroots backlash” — another tone-deaf argument that seems to encourage the doxxing of people who don’t share her political ideology:

And then there was the possibility of a grassroots backlash. In 2008, organizations opposing marriage equality fought for a ballot initiative, Prop 8, that would once again ban same-sex marriage in California. When it passed, grassroots activists took advantage of California’s public records laws to expose donors to the Prop 8 campaign. The backlash to Prop 8 frightened anti-abortion activists who worried about what Bopp called the “grave constitutional injuries that can result from disclosing ordinary citizens’ personal information.”

The notorious Citizens United case was supposed to be a case about protecting donor secrecy. It turned out to focus on something else that was just as explosive: allowing unlimited independent corporate expenditures. Because of Citizens United, ideological nonprofits like Schenck’s or Bopp’s could raise and spend a functionally unlimited amount of money.

But that didn’t make secrecy any less important. Just last summer, the conservative Supreme Court majority voted 6­–3 to strike down a California law requiring nonprofits to provide the state with the names of their top donors. One of the plaintiffs, the Thomas More Society, is now leading the charge for laws preventing out-of-state travel for abortion.

 

It isn’t surprising Ziegler supports doxxing. If we’re talking about political playbooks, the practice is one the Democrats own.

Simply put, the entire article is just another layer of a blossoming Democratic wrap-up smear against Justice Alito and pro-life activists.

Yawn.

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