Senior Democratic lawmakers criticized a letter from the Supreme Court’s in-house attorney denying claims that Justice Samuel Alito leaked the outcome of a 2014 decision, saying that it did not adequately answer questions about alleged leaks at the Court.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said in a statement Tuesday that the Court merely repeated the denials of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that neither he nor his wife leaked the ruling in Burwell v Hobby Lobby but did not provide the lawmakers’ requested additional details.
“Through legal counsel, the Supreme Court reiterated Justice Alito’s denials but did not substantively answer any of our questions,” the lawmakers said. “The Court’s letter is an embodiment of the problems at the Court around ethics issues.”
Whitehouse and Johnson had written to the Court the day after a November 19 New York Times article alleging that a 2014 dinner party at Alito’s home produced a leak about Burwell v Hobby Lobby, a case involving religious rights and contraceptives.
The Times had published a letter from a conservative religious leader, Rev. Rob Schenck, alerting Chief Justice John Roberts to the alleged 2014 leak. Schenck had written that he thought the information might be relevant to the investigation into the leaked opinion this past spring on overturning Roe v Wade.
“There is nothing to suggest that Justice Alito’s actions violated ethics standards,” Supreme Court Legal Counsel Ethan Torrey stated in a letter to the lawmakers on Monday.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said his committee is “reviewing these serious allegations” surrounding the Supreme Court leaks.