At A House Hearing, The Supreme Court Is Accused Of Being Unethical
At A House Hearing, The Supreme Court Is Accused Of Being Unethical

At A House Hearing, The Supreme Court Is Accused Of Being Unethical

Thursday, House Democrats criticized the Supreme Court for what they said were unethical actions. They held a hearing to show a campaign by the religious right to lobby the justices and claims that the court leaked a key decision in 2014.

The Rev. Robert Schenck, a former evangelical minister who organized the lobbying effort, told the House Judiciary Committee about how he tried to use wealthy social conservatives as “stealth missionaries” to make friends with conservative justices.

Schenck said that the overall goal of the operation was to find out how the conservative justices thought and to strengthen their resolve to give strong, unapologetic opinions, especially against abortion. “This is what I called our ministry of courage.”

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that reports in news outlets, including, about a lobbying campaign aimed at the justices have raised questions about how the Supreme Court made its shocking decision in June to overturn the federal constitutional right to abortion.

Nadler said, “Now we have to wonder how much this decision, which overturned decades of law, was influenced by wealthy donors and lobbying to move conservative justices to the right.” Nadler and other Democratic members said that Schenck’s story showed how important it is to pass a law that makes the Supreme Court follow a strict code of ethics.

“We shouldn’t expect Supreme Court justices to police their own ethics, and they can’t,” Nadler said. Schenck said that he took advantage of the high court’s loose ethics rules when he tried to get to know the conservative justices by taking them out to dinner and letting them stay in his home.

“There were clear rules about how to deal with the legislative and executive branches, but none of that applied to the Supreme Court,” Schenck said. “We knew there was a lot of freedom and flexibility there, which made our work in the judicial branch much easier at that level.”

Mark Paoletta, a lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk who was called as a witness by the GOP, called Schenck a “con man” and said that he shouldn’t be trusted because he had admitted in public that he had lied sometimes during his lobbying campaign. Paoletta said, “Schenck’s whole project was a scam that had no effect on justice.”

At A House Hearing, The Supreme Court Is Accused Of Being Unethical
At A House Hearing, The Supreme Court Is Accused Of Being Unethical

Paoletta clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and has represented his wife, Virginia Thomas, in the House Jan. 6 Committee investigation. He said it was crazy to think that justices like Thomas or Samuel Alito could be pushed to be more conservative on issues like abortion rights.

“You’re making the court look bad and getting people to doubt the court and its decisions,” Paoletta said. “This attack on the court from the political side is a risky game.”

No one from the Supreme Court testified at the hearing on Thursday, but the court has put out statements that disagree with many of Schenck’s claims. A request for a comment on the hearing and a claim that the court had been asked “again and again” to send a witness but had not done so was not answered right away by the court.

Schenck has also said that he found out about the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Supreme Court case in 2014. This was a case that a lot of people were watching because it was about whether or not businesses with religious owners could get out of having to cover contraception under Obamacare. Schenck says he found out about Alito writing the opinion and that the religious business owners had won about three weeks before the decision was made public.

Schenck said that the normally private information came from Gayle Wright after she and her husband had dinner at Alito’s home in Alexandria, Virginia. Wright has said that Schenck’s story is false. Alito said in a statement last month that neither he nor his wife told anyone about the Hobby Lobby decision or who wrote it before it came out.

Republican lawmakers tried to hurt Schenck by calling him a liar and pointing out that he had admitted to spreading “consequential lies” before leaving the religious right a few years ago. “When I look back, I realize that a lot of what I said wasn’t true,” he said Thursday. “At the time, I didn’t know.”

Republicans in the House criticized their Democratic colleagues for bringing up the alleged leak in 2014 while not holding a hearing to find out how POLITICO got a draft of the high court’s opinion in the big abortion case that came out in June. Alito also wrote that decision, which conservatives see as a major win.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said, “You didn’t hold any hearings on it.” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, “No one is hearing about the real leak, but here we are having a hearing about the fake leak.”

Jordan also said that recently reported that after months of looking, it “was unable to find anyone who heard about the Hobby Lobby decision directly from either Alito or his wife before it was released at the end of June 2014.” Jordan read that part of the article out loud twice to emphasize it, but both times he left out the word “directly.” After that, Biggs read the whole passage.

Even though Democratic and Republican lawmakers got into some heated arguments, lawmakers from both parties said they were in favor of requiring the Supreme Court to have an ethics code. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said, “If you can buy off the Supreme Court, the left will be much better at it than we are.”

Paoletta said that Democrats were “gaslighting” because they didn’t care much about ethics when Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s husband kept practicing law after she became a justice. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) said that wasn’t a reason to stop working on a bill that would make the high court follow an ethics code. “Right now, we’re talking about it. She said, “Sometimes we’re late.”

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About Sam Houston 1811 Articles
Hello, I'm Sam Houston, and I'm proud to be a part of the team as a content writer. My journey into journalism has been quite an exciting ride, and it all began with a background in content creation. My roots as a content writer have equipped me with the essential skills needed to craft engaging narratives and convey information effectively. This background proved invaluable when I decided to make the transition into journalism. The transition allowed me to channel my storytelling abilities into producing news articles that not only inform but also captivate our readers.

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