Supreme Court counsel says there is no evidence Judge Samuel Alito violated ethical standards, according to a letter released Monday in response to questions from congressional Democrats about allegations that Alito reportedly revealed the outcome of a 2014 decision before it was published.
“There is no suggestion that Justice Alito’s actions violated ethical standards,” wrote Supreme Court counsel Ethan Torrey. “The relevant rules balance preventing gifts that could undermine public confidence in the judiciary and allowing judges to maintain normal personal friendships.”
Torrey pushed back against allegations by an evangelical minister, the Reverend Rob Schenck, published in The New York Times earlier this month. The story alleged that there had been an earlier Supreme Court violation in a landmark religious liberty case years before the final quarter leak of a Dobbs draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Judge Alito said that neither he nor Ms. Alito” told Gayle Wright, a guest at his home years ago, “about the decision in the Hobby Lobby case, or the authorship of the opinion of the court,” Torrey wrote.
Torrey also said that Alito and his wife got to know Wright and her now-deceased husband through their support of the Supreme Court Historical Society, and “they had a casual, purely social relationship.”
“The judge never detected any effort on the part of the Wrights to obtain confidential information or to influence anything he did in an official or private capacity,” Torrey wrote.
Wright previously denied Schenk’s claims in an interview with CNN.
The letter was in response to questions from Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Johnson posed to Torrey and Chief Justice John Roberts for answers last week after the Times article was published.
Members of Congress had asked Roberts to ‘assist our investigation’ into the allegations and warned that the new allegations suggest ‘that the orchestrators of this judicial lobbying campaign may have used their access to certain judges to obtain information. confidential information about ongoing cases that only deepen our concerns about the lack of adequate ethical and legal safeguards in court.