‘This Will Be It’
In June 2014, when Mrs. Wright told Mr. Schenck that she and her husband would be dining privately with the Alitos, she and the minister agreed she would try to learn to learn the outcome of the Hobby Lobby case, he said. “She knew I had an interest in knowing,” Mr. Schenck wrote in his letter to the chief justice.
On June 4, the day after the meal, Mrs. Wright sent Mr. Schenck her cryptic email saying she had news.
In the interview, Mrs. Wright said that while she did not have her calendars from those days, she believed the night in question involved a dinner at the Alitos’ home during which she fell ill. She said that the justice drove her and her husband back to her hotel, and that this might have been the news she wanted to share with Mr. Schenck.
“Being a friend or having a friendly relationship with a justice, you know that they don’t ever tell you about cases. They aren’t allowed to,” Mrs. Wright said. “Nor would I ask. There has never been a time in all my years that a justice or a justice’s spouse told me anything about a decision.”
The minister said that after he learned the outcome from Mrs. Wright in a phone call, he froze. He knew that pending decisions were not supposed to be disclosed, and that sharing the information could hurt everyone involved if it got out.
His wife, Cheryl Schenck, said he was agonized. “The reason I remember is all the stressful machinations on, ‘What should I do with this information?’” Ms. Schenck, a therapist, said in an interview.
Ultimately, Mr. Schenck could not resist using it, he said. Emails he wrote over the following weeks reflect the advance knowledge he said he had of the Hobby Lobby decision. While the outcome was not surprising — the justices’ questions during oral arguments had hinted at it — Mr. Schenck appeared to know that Justice Alito would author the opinion, even though many court watchers expected Chief Justice Roberts to write it.