A right-wing, anti-abortion religious activist was caught bragging about praying with various Supreme Court Justices, according to a hot mic audio tape obtained by Rolling Stone.
The admission was made by Peggy Nienaber, the executive director of Liberty Counsel's D.C. ministry, during a celebration of the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established America's constitutional right to abortion. On a live stream, Nienaber was directly asked whether she prays with any members of the court.
"I do," she responded, seemingly unaware that the stream was being recorded.
"They will pray with us, those that like us to pray with them."
She later added that her comments were "totally off the record."
If true, Nienaber's allegation would pose a significant conflict of interest for the court.
Since its inception in the late '80s, Liberty Counsel has vociferously fought to curtail abortion rights by building access to anti-abortion lawmakers in different branches of government. The group has brought legal cases to the Supreme Court and specifically submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, which officially ended the federal right to abortion last month.
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel's founder, vehemently denied Nienaber's claims, telling Rolling Stone that there is "no way" the group has prayed with any justices.
"She has prayer meetings for them, not with them," he claimed.
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However, the ministry's founder, Rob Schenck, who originally launched the group under the name of Faith and Action in the Nation's Capital, affirmed that the group has hosted prayer ceremonies with members of the Supreme Court since the late '90s. Schenk told Rolling Stone that the group built personal relationships with Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and the late Antonin Scalia.
"The intention all along was to embolden the conservative justices by loaning them a kind of spiritual moral support – to give them an assurance that not only was there a large number of people behind them, but in fact, there was divine support for very strong and unapologetic opinions from them," Schenk explained.
Nienaber's comments come as the public's view of the court continues to sour.
Last month, Gallup found that only a quarter of all respondents in the U.S. has "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the judiciary – an eleven-point drop since last year.