This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on December 5, 2022.
Right before Thanksgiving, the New York Times reported some disturbing news about the Supreme Court: In 2014, Justice Samuel Alito allegedly leaked the impending decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby to anti-choice lobbyists weeks before the Court publicly issued it.
This is just the latest revelation of inappropriate contact Alito has had with conservative activists, adding further confirmation that the Court’s right flank has worked with far-right activists to advance an extreme conservative agenda, particularly around abortion access.
It’s not news that the Court’s conservatives have a political motivation for their opinions. After all, President Trump promised to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and then they did just that.
But this revelation about Alito is different. It suggests something more sinister: that some of the justices are acting in concert with conservative movement leaders, leaking opinions, signaling outcomes, and backchanneling. This is disturbing and devastating. The rule of law cannot survive if the judiciary ceases to be independent. We now have the first unquestionable sign that the Court’s independence has been profoundly compromised.