Rob Schenck is the unnamed co-author, with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, of the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson decision that reversed Roe v. Wade last month. How do I know that? Because Schenck recently told the whole world in a podcast for a liberal religious group.
“It was a polemic from our side of the movement, which startled me, took my breath away,” Schenck told Rabbi Jack Moline in the July 16 podcast, according to Politico’s Josh Gerstein. “He was using phrases we had invented as bumper sticker slogans in a Supreme Court decision. It was breathtaking to me.”
That quote appears high up in Gerstein’s July 20 column, and it instantly caught my attention because it clearly pointed to the smoking gun of the scandal Schenck sparked when he claimed his praying for years with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Alito led to the June 24 Dobbs decision.
Those prayer sessions were the culmination of a two-decade-long campaign Schenck conceived and led as chief of the evangelical political activist group, Faith and Action.
Schenck’s claims about lobbying the justices were first “reported” earlier this month by Rolling Stone. The reason for the quotation marks on “reported” is explained in my previous columns on this controversy, here and here.
It is vital to note at this point that the Dobbs decision returned to the people, acting through their state legislatures, the authority to decide the status of abortion within their borders. That authority was supplanted by the Supreme Court’s Roe decision in 1973.
When Roe was decided, two-thirds of the states either banned abortion or closely regulated it, while others, notably California and New York, were going in the opposite direction by liberalizing their statutes on the issue.
The “smoking gun” reference above is to Schenck’s crucial claim, which made him an instant hero to the Left-wing hordes of abortion supporters, including those still protesting daily in front of the private residences of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Cohen Barrett as well as those offering $50 for public sightings of one of the conservative justices.
Those payments are important, considering the fact that one member of the horde traveled all the way from California to the Maryland suburb where Kavanaugh resides with the intent to murder the Justice, either with the firearm or the knife he was carrying when he was arrested before carrying out his planned attack.
The core of Schenck’s claim is that his lengthy campaign from his years as a pro-lifer, which he now disavows as “strident” and opposed to “critical thinking,” produced the Dobbs decision. But notice that he has yet to document this by pointing out the specific places in the text of the decision that reflect his prayerful influence on Alito.
That’s why, when I noticed that Politico failed to quote him describing any such specifics, I sat down and listened to the podcast for myself. Sure enough, just as Politico reported, Schenck told the world that Alito, with whom Schenck had prayed an unspecified number of times, was so influenced by those prayers that the justice incorporated into the decision “phrases” and “bumper sticker slogans” that originated with Schenck.
Schenck’s podcast interviewer, who evidently is a trusted friend, failed to ask him the obvious follow-up question: What are some specific examples from Alito’s decision text of those phrases and bumper sticker slogans?
So I emailed Schenck at his workplace and asked him that question myself. I explained that I was inquiring because I was planning to write this column you are now reading, and I told him my deadline.
While waiting for a response, I also read Alito’s decision to see if I could identify those “phrases” and “bumper sticker slogans” the Justice allegedly got from Schenck. Alito provides, among much else in the decision, a comprehensive and much-needed history lesson on the criminal treatment of abortion in American and English common law prior to 1973.
But I didn’t see anything remotely resembling a Schenckian bumper sticker slogan. Same goes for any “phrases” Alito might have borrowed from things he heard while praying with Schenck, or that were passed along to him by one of the other justices with whom Schenck prayed.
Perhaps Schenck checked out my two previous columns on these matters and decided not to respond to my request. That’s his prerogative, of course. But until he can point out those specific examples of how his prior prayers with Alito influenced the Dobbs decision, his credibility ranks right up there with this once-famous guy.