Court disclosure bombshell 'extremely harmful to American politics': legal expert

Court disclosure bombshell 'extremely harmful to American politics': legal expert

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has vehemently denied an allegation from former anti-abortion activist Rob Schenck that in 2014, either Alito or his wife told right-wing donors what the outcome of the Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell would be. Schenck, according to the New York Times, alleges that he was told the outcome of the case several weeks before the decision was announced.

On November 20, former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade and Slate reporter Dahlia Lithwick discussed this bombshell during an appearance on MSNBC. Lithwick was vehemently critical of the High Court’s right-wing majority and its interactions with lobbyists.

Lithwick said of the Times’ reporting, “Every piece of this suggests a massive, massive campaign to influence outcomes…. There are people, evidently, who know outcomes of cases before they’re (announced).”

READ MORE: Why Samuel Alito’s 'militant Christianity' is a 'problem for the rest of us': journalist

McQuade was asked what harm comes from lobbyists having “prior knowledge” of a Supreme Court decision before it is announced. And McQuade responded, “It’s not a crime to know what’s going to happen at the Supreme Court before it’s actually issued, but people can obtain all kinds of advantages if they know what’s coming — especially in these big cases. One is messaging. If they know that the Court is going to rule in a certain way, they can take action in support of that and demonstrate their own insights and lobbying influence to others.”

The former federal prosecutor continued, “They can take financial interest. If you know the Court’s going to come out a certain way, either favoring or opposing some business practice, you can invest in that business practice and enjoy the windfall that comes when you’re able to use this insider information to the competitive advantage of everyone else. Politically, if you can see the tea leaves of what’s going to happen down the road, you can arrange your affairs in a way to take advantage of it. So, it’s extremely harmful to American politics and American business when people are tipped off about something as significant as a Supreme Court opinion. I think it’s a very serious problem.”

Lithwick stressed that judges and Supreme Court justices must avoid the “appearance of impropriety,” adding, “You don’t want to look, to the public, as though you’re in the tank for one side or the other.”

Watch the video below or at at this link:

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