No, not the pirate Captain (Bartholomew) Roberts. He's long dead. We're talking about Captain John of the S.S. SCOTUS who, unlike Bartholomew, doesn't have the common decency to fly a pirate's flag as warning that he might just take away everything that matters to you.
The Chief Justice rarely seems to go more than a month or so without yet another embarrassment. And this weekend, he suffered a big black eye (maybe he should wear an eyepatch?). It wasn't directly his fault, per se, but he's cultivated a certain... culture on the Court. And, more broadly, the buck stops with him anytime the Court sh**s the bench.
For those who did not see it, The New York Times had a story based on conversations the paper had with Rev. Rob Schenck. Schenck used to be a hardcore evangelical and anti-abortion activist, and someone who traveled in the highest circles of those movements. According to the Reverend, who has since joined a different branch of Christianity and has moved away from his anti-choice past, he had advance knowledge of SCOTUS' decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. That is the 2014 ruling that, among other things, allowed conservative-owned businesses to opt out of providing birth control to employees despite the mandate contained within the ACA.
The Burwell decision was written by one Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. That would be the same Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. who wrote the Dobbs decision. You know, the one that someone leaked several weeks early. Hmmmmmm... Alito insists his chambers are airtight, that he did not share information about Burwell with anyone and that he most certainly isn't responsible for the Dobbs leak. Of course, he would say that regardless of whether or not the Times' story is correct. And, for what it's worth, Schenck has e-mail and other evidence in support of his story, and also has no clear reason to lie.
Recall that when the Dobbs decision did leak, Roberts angrily promised that he would get to the bottom of the matter and that the perpetrator would be identified and punished. Since then... crickets. Perhaps he simply never found the answer he was looking for. Or perhaps he found the answer and decided he was best off burying that information. Whatever it is, the Chief Justice is now on Congress' radar. The Democrats want to know what Roberts has done to identify the Dobbs leaker and also what he knows about the apparent access to Alito (and other conservative justices) that certain outsiders seem to enjoy. If Roberts doesn't play ball, then an investigation may commence. As of Jan. 3, House Democrats won't be able to launch such an investigation, but Senate Democrats certainly can. And it's Senate Judiciary Committee member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) who is carping most loudly about the leaky Court. So, Roberts & Co. might soon find themselves under a very uncomfortable microscope. (Z)