Democrat Lawmakers Issue Ultimatum To Justice Roberts

( Leading Democrats on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees requested on Sunday that Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court cooperate with their inquiry into the court’s disregard for ethical rules.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), heads of the subcommittees supervising the federal judiciary in their respective houses, cautioned in a joint letter that if the court continued to suggest it was not serious about policing itself, Congress would intervene.

The ruling in the 2014 case of Hobby Lobby v. Burwell was leaked, according to a report in The New York Times, which was the day before the letter was sent. According to reports, Alito discussed the ruling with Supreme Court Historical Society contributors who were a part of an influence campaign run by Rev. Rob Schenck, a former figurehead of the conservative evangelical movement.

The two legislators insisted that Congress had the right to look into the court and pressed Roberts for details about the influence campaign that Schenck had carried out through his Faith & Action organization.

They also asked for details regarding Schenck’s letter to Roberts dated July, in which he claimed to have known about the Hobby Lobby verdict from one of his volunteers after she had gone to dinner with Alito and his wife. As part of the court’s investigation of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision leak that reversed Roe v. Wade, Schenck wrote his letter. The decision in Hobby Lobby was not leaked, according to Alito, who wrote both the Dobbs and Hobby Lobby rulings.

Whitehouse and Johnson questioned Roberts about naming the people or departments looking into any aspect of the influence effort or Schenck’s charges against Alito.

Additionally, it requested that he name the people in charge of policing the relationship between the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Historical Society to ensure that paid membership in the Society is not utilized to acquire undue influence.

The two senators said that the court should designate an individual knowledgeable about these concerns to deliver testimony to us concerning issues relating to ethics or reporting questions raised about justice’s conduct, signaling that their inquiry is headed toward hearings.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are interested in learning what Chief Justice John Roberts is doing to look into the ethical scandals involving conservatives like Justice Samuel Alito.

After Democrats lost the House in the midterms, Johnson will resign as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s courts subcommittee in January. The Senate remained Democratic.

Whitehouse can still call witnesses and hold hearings through his Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee for at least two years.