Lawmakers are demanding further investigation at the Supreme Court and renewing their calls for binding ethics rules for the justices, after allegations that a major 2014 contraception decision was prematurely disclosed through a secretive influence campaign by anti-abortion activists, the New York Times reports. “The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI}. "At SCOTUS, the problems run deep." The newspaper chronicled yearslong efforts by the Rev. Robert L. Schenck, an evangelical minister and former anti-abortion leader, and donors to his nonprofit to reach conservative justices and reinforce anti-abortion views. In 2014, he said, he obtained advance word of the outcome and the author of the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a case about contraception and the religious rights of corporations.
That decision — like the one leaked this spring, overturning the right to abortion — was written by Justice Samuel Alito. Schenck said he learned the Hobby Lobby details from a donor who had dined with Alito. Both the justice and the donor denied sharing the information. “We intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations,” said Whitehouse and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA, who lead the Senate and House Judiciary Committee courts subcommittees. The revelations underscored the lack of accountability mechanisms at the Supreme Court. Unlike other federal judges, the justices are not bound by a written code of ethics; legislation that would create one is pending in Congress. The high court’s marshal had already been looking into the extraordinary leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion.