The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a publicly viewable hearing next week on a far-right pressure campaign detailed in recent media reports that targeted conservative Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court with luxuries like dinner and accommodations.
The campaign, known as Operation Higher Court, has also been connected in allegations from somebody who used to lead it to a leak of a 2014 decision that freed up private companies to break with legal demands if religiously objecting. (The case applied this framework to providing coverage for birth control to employees.) Rob Schenck, the former campaign leader, indicated he was tipped off to the nature of the 2014 decision — and, it also seems, to the decision’s authorship — thanks to a couple involved in his efforts after they dined with the Alitos. Justice Samuel Alito has predictably denied providing preemptive information about the case’s outcome, although the Times found it seemed likely Schenck was aware of the nature of what was coming in the weeks before the decision was released.
Communications reported on by the Times that Schenck himself apparently provided show he was kept informed of the Wrights’ interactions with Supreme Court families, who, besides the Alitos, included Clarence and Ginni Thomas alongside the late Antonin Scalia and his widow, Maureen. Schenck outlined his claims about the leak in a letter earlier this year to Chief Justice John Roberts amid concerns about the leak of the decision overturning Roe before it was actually issued. Alito was responsible for both decisions. Although it doesn’t appear there is any written record of either of the Wrights providing the information about the 2014 decision to Schenck, he did receive a telling message. “Rob, if you want some interesting news please call. No emails,” Gayle Wright told him the day after she and her husband met with the Alitos.
Wright explicitly denied receiving information about the decision, suggesting it was instead just something innocuous she was trying to share. Well, then why couldn’t she do it via email? These sorts of connections provide the opportunity for court decisions to become favors to supporters. A guiding principle of the endeavor with which Schenck was involved was for conservatives on the court to be emboldened, and undoing the national right to abortion has, of course, long been high on the list for those sorts of people. The judiciary panel is holding a hearing on December 8 called: “Undue Influence: Operation Higher Court and Politicking at SCOTUS.” A witness list doesn’t appear to be available yet.