Democrats’ Cynical And Partisan Campaign To Attack The Supreme Court Now Trains Its Fire On Private Citizens

Senate Democrats’ Threats Of Subpoenas For Friends Of Supreme Court Justices And Legal Activists Are Nothing More Than A Partisan Witch Hunt, Driven By Their Anger At The Court’s Refusal To Do Their Political Bidding

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “For the past several months, when they’re not rubber-stamping radical nominees for the federal bench, Senate Democrats have been laser-focused on punishing a co-equal branch of government and bending it to their own political will. To do so our colleagues plan to steer the Judiciary Committee onto the thinnest Constitutional ice…. For months now, the Justices of the Court have been the subject of an uptick in pearl-clutching and hysterics from the political Left and their media allies…. [N]o matter which headline is chosen as pretext on any given day, it’s the same old intimidation campaign by the Left to undermine the Court.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/19/2023)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “By their own example, Senate Democrats have repeatedly told the American people that the entire federal judiciary exists for no other reason than to fulfill their changing political whims. They’ve threatened Justices by name from the steps of the Court and threatened the institution itself in unfriendly amicus briefs. In each instance, Democrats have signaled their open disdain for a body that refuses to interpret the Constitution through the lens of their Party’s platform. They’ve shown how afraid they are of a Court that upholds our laws as they were written. And they’ve exposed their profound misunderstanding of the Supreme Court’s purpose in our republic…. The same Democrats who warn solemnly about defending democracy would like to shatter the independence of a co-equal pillar of our government.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/19/2023)
  • LEADER McCONNELL: “[W]hat [Sen. Durbin is] targeting here is private citizens with no legislative purpose. I think it’s completely and totally inappropriate.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference, 10/31/2023)

Senate Democrats Are Escalating Their Political Pressure Campaign To Attack The Legitimacy Of The Supreme Court

“For months, Democrats in Congress have tried unsuccessfully to press the Supreme Court to strengthen its ethics rules … Now, Senate Democrats see an opening to demand more details … The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote Thursday to subpoena two wealthy benefactors, along with a judicial activist who helped shape the conservative supermajority that has quickly moved the court’s jurisprudence to the right.” (“Democratic Plan To Subpoena Supreme Court Justices’ Allies Faces Pushback,” The Washington Post, 11/08/2023)

“The targets of the subpoenas, including activist Leonard Leo and Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, have pushed back aggressively against the Democrats’ demands, defending not just themselves but also Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. In lengthy letters citing past Supreme Court cases, lawyers for Crow and Leo say the committee’s requests are overly invasive, exceed the panel’s authority — and are driven by politics, rather than a legitimate need for information to pass legislation. ‘This inquiry appears calculated to target and intimidate Justice Thomas by unearthing details about his private life that the Committee evidently believes will embarrass him and inflict public humiliation,’ Crow’s attorney, Michael D. Bopp, wrote in a seven-page letter last month.” (“Democratic Plan To Subpoena Supreme Court Justices’ Allies Faces Pushback,” The Washington Post, 11/08/2023)

‘This Isn’t About The Facts, [It’s] An Attempt To Tarnish The Supreme Court By Innuendo’

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD:Senate Democrats can’t accept that the Supreme Court no longer does their policy bidding, so they’re trying to discredit it. The latest effort is a subpoena threat against the friends of Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Led by Sheldon Whitehouse and his spokesman Dick Durbin, the Judiciary Committee has been threatening subpoenas against Harlan Crow [and] Leonard Leo …” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 11/07/2023)

  • “There is no crisis, nor are there ethics violations, and Justices are allowed to have friends—even if they’re rich. But this isn’t about the facts. This is about gathering headlines to tarnish these men and the Court.” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 11/07/2023)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “Mr. Leo is a particular target given his role in recommending judges to Presidents and his financial support for conservative causes. In one typical tweet last month, Sen. Whitehouse slammed ‘the ubiquitous fixer Leonard Leo’ as part of a ‘filthy web of dark money, right-wing billionaires, compliant Supreme Court Justices.’ The ad hominem and fact-free slander gives his political game away.” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 11/07/2023)

  • “Mr. Leo is holding firm and says he won’t ‘bow to the vile and disgusting liberal McCarthyism that seeks to destroy the Supreme Court simply because it follows the Constitution rather than their political agenda.’” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 11/07/2023)

Senate Republicans Have No Illusions About Democrats’ Crusade ‘To Harass And Intimidate The Supreme Court Because [They] Don’t Like Some Of The Recent Decisions’

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “There’s not a worse idea on the planet than [to] have politicians change the number of Supreme Court justices when they don’t like the decisions. That’s the end of the judiciary as we know it and they’re openly talking about doing it. … This needs to end. The effort by the left to destroy the Court in the eyes of the public is one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen since I’ve been there.” (Sen. Graham, Press Conference, 7/19/2023)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “This effort to subpoena private individuals isn’t what you call real oversight. It’s part of this whirlwind of your party … to undermine [the] Supreme Court as part of a campaign by the left to harass and intimidate the Supreme Court because you don’t like some of the recent decisions. Over the last six months, we’ve seen relentless effort by Democrats to cast doubt on this fundamental independent branch of government. Unfortunately, this request for subpoena authorization is just more of the same. The left’s one sided attack against our judicial system appears to be more about settling scores than ensuring the integrity of the court.(Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting, 11/02/2023)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “This bill is not about ethics. … This bill is about the Groff case, the Elenis case, the Harvard case, it’s about Dobbs, it’s about Bruen, it’s about West Virginia vs. EPA. We all know what a tell is. Even if you’ve never played poker, you know what a tell is. A tell is behavior that gives unintended information about what you really think. There are plenty of tells about what this bill is really about. I still can’t get over, Mr. Chairman, that he said it. I still can’t get over that Senator Schumer went to the steps of the United States Supreme Court and said the following. I’m going to quote him because it gives me chills of the wrong kind. Senator Schumer said, … ‘You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.’ … You disagree with the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. … The answer is not to destroy the Supreme Court.” (Senate Judiciary Committee Markup, 7/20/2023)

  • SEN. KENNEDY: “I think the fundamental issue here is that there’s some people that don’t like the opinions being issued by the United States Supreme Court. And that is your right. I’ve disagreed with many of the Supreme Court’s opinions, but I haven’t tried to destroy them.” (Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting, 11/02/2023)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “It’s not as Senator Whitehouse says, an effort to expose wrongdoing at the Supreme Court. It’s an effort to delegitimize the Supreme Court because you don’t like the way they rule. When you lose at the ballot box for years, you tried to achieve in courts which you couldn’t achieve through democratic elections and legislatures. You thought the Supreme Court was your own special province.” (Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting, 11/02/2023)

  • SEN. COTTON: “There’s not some secret, it’s wide out in the open. Chuck Schumer has gone to the steps of the Supreme Court and threatened Justices by name, that they wouldn’t know what hit them if they ruled in ways that the Democratic Party didn’t like.” (Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting, 11/02/2023)

REMINDER: The ‘Ethics’ Claims Are An Obvious Smokescreen For Democrats’ Partisan Attacks On The Supreme Court

“The Democratic proposal won’t become law anytime soon. But when it comes to influencing Washington’s judicial wars, that’s not the point.” (“Dems Start Round One In Supreme Court Ethics ‘Boxing Match,’” Politico, 7/19/2023)

CNN’s PHIL MATTINGLY: “Is that the point here from your perspective? You’re trying to move this through committee to send a message and hope the that kind of unlocks the Chief Justice’s willingness to do something?”

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman: “Well, it’s more than just a message.” (CNN This Morning, 7/20/2023)

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): “Think of a boxing match. If you don’t fight the first round, you can’t win the match…” (“Dems Start Round One In Supreme Court Ethics ‘Boxing Match,’” Politico, 7/19/2023)

  • WHITEHOUSE: “… it’s impossible to know what the appropriate response is. So, I have not spoken out in favor of adding a number to the court, but I don’t think we should foreclose that in an amendment here...” (Senate Judiciary Committee Markup, 7/20/2023)

SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): “The movement to fix our broken Supreme Court is gaining momentum. The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act must pass out of the Judiciary Committee so we can finally bind these justices by a code of conduct. Then we need to expand the Court and restore democracy.” (Sen. Markey, @SenMarkey, Twitter, 7/20/2023)

Senate Democrats Joined Far-Left Special Interest Groups Who Have Been Urging Them To ‘Go Beyond Just Disagreeing With The Court’s Decisions And Attack It As An Institution’ In Order To Pave The Way For Packing The Court

“[P]rogressive activists and leading members of [the Democratic Party] have been urging: Go beyond just disagreeing with the court’s decisions and attack it as an institution. Single out its six conservative justices as corrupt MAGA Republicans who are in the pocket of special interests. Question the conservative court’s very legitimacy.” (The New York Times, 7/13/2023)

“Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, has urged Democratic politicians to accuse the court of having a ‘legitimacy crisis.’ ‘We’d like to amplify anyone who uses this corruption/legitimacy messaging,’ Mr. Green wrote to lawmakers a few weeks ago. ‘Do you think your office can work this line into public statements as decisions come down?’ ‘Critiquing the institution, if done at a high crescendo, hopefully gets the court to be on their best behavior in the future,’ Mr. Green said.” (The New York Times, 7/13/2023)

“Brian Fallon is troubled by the impact of all the recent rulings, but he isn’t letting that distract him from trying to put in place the political foundation for a seismic change: expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court … Five years ago, Fallon, who has previously held senior jobs with Senator Chuck Schumer, Attorney General Eric Holder, and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, launched the advocacy group Demand Justice.” (Vanity Fair, 7/03/2023)

  • FALLON: “Our approach [at Demand Justice] has been to try to be an insurgent and say, No, the whole thing is not on the level. And the people that tell you otherwise are just captive to the institution…. Start taking on the court rhetorically as a political villain …” (Vanity Fair, 7/05/2022)
  • FALLON:SCOTUS leaks are good. Elite lawyers on both the left and right treating the Court as precious all these years have just been giving cover to an institution that is wholly unaccountable. Rip the veil off.” (Brian Fallon, @brianefallon, Twitter, 5/03/2022)

SARAH LIPTON-LUBET, President of Take Back the Court Action Fund: “With its utter disregard for ethics, constitutional precedent, and the health and wellbeing of Americans, the Supreme Court has lost the public’s trust. The only way to rebuild faith in the Court is to restore balance, integrity, and independence by adding seats.” (Sen. Markey, Press Release, 5/16/2023)


Related Issues: Supreme Court, Senate Democrats