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The real problem with SCOTUS ethics now.

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Supreme Court justices? They are like you and me.

That’s pretty much the total public defense against a new report from the New York Times released on Saturday. The story was a bombshell: In 2014, Justice Samuel Alito allegedly told donors to a religiously motivated Supreme Court lobbying organization that he would be the author of the opinion in Burwell v. Hall entranceAnd that religious opponents will be on the winning side of the bargain. This revelation can only be compared to another leak – the complete project leak of Dobbs The notice is in May, but it passed through the media and the legal world with much less fanfare. Who doesn’t love a good dinner and some hot chatting? Court critics, once again, commanded a fight.

As Jodi Kantor and Joe Baker, then-anti-abortion activist and crusader, describe it, Reverend Rob Schenck knew of the outcome of a 2014 case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate weeks before it was announced. Whether Schenck heard this from the Wrights, the wealthy Ohio philanthropists who dined with the Alitos in early June of that year, as he claims, or simply from someone else, the fact is that there are many contemporary reports from Kantor and Becker to show that Schenck knew what It will happen and act accordingly.

Schenck is certainly an unreliable informant, especially based on his past activities. Inasmuch as the case is framed here as Alito’s journey, it must be borne in mind that the journey is actually the least problematic aspect of the unquestioned relationship between the seated Supreme Court justices and the wealthy. He goes into detail. according to time He notes that the Wrights claimed to have become involved with Schenck’s organization, Faith and Action, “to have a significant influence on the attitudes and actions of those in a position to shape and interpret our laws.” They wrote in the 2001 newsletter. There’s no denying that between 2000 and 2018 When he left Faith and Action, Schenck had raised over $30 million.

It is also indisputable that Alito and his wife, Martha Ann, were dining in June with wealthy philanthropists who had a vested interest in the outcome. Hobby hall. Alito, in his statement to the court this week, acknowledges that fact. It is indisputable that a wealthy benefactor, Gayle Wright, called Schenck immediately after dinner with an e-mail saying, “Rob, if you want any interesting news, please call. No e-mails.” (After The Times saw that e-mail, it asked Wright reported other “sensational” unprintable news. She told him she had recovered from a stomach ailment. Schenck had written among other wealthy admirers of religious liberty to donate large sums of money to the Supreme Court Historical Society so that they could have access to the justices. Some of these efforts, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, did not.Instead, they rewarded these three awarding justices with much-needed access and seats in oral arguments in the case of religious freedom ‘of the year.

Gayle Wright wrote to Schenck before the arguments in The Hall entrance The case is at hand. “Wonderful!”

Wright explained that Scalia gave her and her (now deceased) husband seats for arguments “all the time” because “Nino and my husband were really good friends.” In his statement to The New York Times denying inappropriate behavior, Alito insisted that he and his wife shared a “purely social and casual relationship” with Wrights.

The casual and social relationships the Wrights developed included, among others: hunting with Scalia; mingling with Alitos, Scalias, and Thomases; and hosting the Alitos at their vacation home near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. as we do. Jill Wright was pretty busy with all these mundane, casual friendships. An email from 2016 stated that his schedule included: “Lunch with CT on Monday, Saturday on Wednesday, dinner in court on Monday, dinner with Maureen [Scalia’s wife] Wednesday. »

It is also indisputable that donations to the Supreme Court Historical Society led to access to the justices. In fact, there’s no denying that he’s given interested donors access to Supreme Court events, which is why the association’s executive director, David T. Pride, brought Hobby Lobby CEO David Green to a November 2011 Christmas party hosted by the Chief Justice . .. Himself. Afterward, Schenck described Green’s parents as potential major donors to the community: “The family is worth about $3 billion.” Soon after, Green joined the board in defiance of what would become the Affordable Care Act. Hall entrance Court case.

It is also indisputable that Alito knew enough about Wright’s social and informal religious views (she was interested, as she explained, in “all things biblical matters”) to suggest she attend. Legal lecture by Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Freedom Institute, which also handles religious freedom cases in the Supreme Court. Previous reports on Faith and Action in Politics and Rolling Stone. Reports include allegations of praying with the judges in chambers and financing expensive dinners with Tomas, Alito and Scalia and their wives. However, judges’ financial disclosures rarely include expensive meals and “personal hospitality.”

Alito’s statement to the New York Times seemed more focused on asserting that the Wrights (who are not bound by any ethics or disclosure rules) did anything wrong: “I have never observed any effort on the part of the Wrights to obtain classified information or influence anything I do. Whether in an official or private capacity, and I would strongly object if they did.First, whether the Wrights acted improperly in receiving classified information is far less worrisome than whether he — a Supreme Court justice — acted improperly in disclosing the information One way or another. But even so, how do we feel about the fact that wealthy religious zealots paid to pray, mingle with Supreme Court justices, and receive invaluable personal favors? Religious zealots are free to do all of these things. The real problem is that the justices have allowed, encouraged, and rewarded This happens, and they now claim the real abuse here is controlling their casual social lives.As Rolling Stone says This spring, Faith and Action, which claims to have prayed regularly with some of the justices for many years, also filed Friends Briefs on Court this spring.

In other words, the leakage is actually minimal, in part because no one actually believes that the Court intends to monitor or even investigate the leakers. The New York Times article on the massive influence network is a complete farce, it doesn’t even mention the leak, and the fact that the wealthy donors didn’t get special benefits because the justices were already in the tank because of their religious ideology. To improve this smell.

This is the crux of the problem. The fact that some judges believe that “informal” and “social” relationships with lobbyists, activists, and interested parties who have court cases are appropriate and acceptable is the problem, because it means that one cannot trust them to avoid such contact. The problem is that the same justices who continue to blame their colleagues, the press, and the American public for their declining faith in the institution don’t seem to understand the kinds of behavior that seem inappropriate to them because they In fact we inappropriate. Traffic court judges in cities with four stop signs know better than to drink, take vacations, and be photographed with interested parties in front of them, not to mention assign choice seats to expensive cases. Of course, it is different when the parties involved are rich.

What the Wrights and other donors bought when they bought access to Supreme Court events and enjoyment was that access to lavish vacation homes and dinners was not illegal. But it was and still is under the authority of the judges who took advantage of all these efforts to avoid it. They didn’t because they apparently thought they were engaging in casual acts of friendship. It’s really sad on a personal level. But it also tells you everything you need to know about why this court continues to burn the candle of its legitimacy on both ends. They don’t even realize it’s a problem. Uninhibited and rewarding sucking, squeezing, and stroking—and the rewards that come with it—have all been reconfigured as harmless socialization.

These are the same Supreme Court justices who keep claiming that they will allow we Knowing who is to blame for the small number of consents he may well believe that their judgment in this matter is impeccable. The New York Times reported that their judgment is very poor. The reports reveal why they can’t be relied upon to solve the problem. I can’t even count on a poster He. She.

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