Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Last week, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett began in the United States Senate illustrating the stark divide amongst Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, went viral due to a 30 minute presentation in which he used poster board displays to document how dark money influences United States politics. Multiple videos of Sen. Whitehouse’s presentations were posted by PBS, MSNBC and Now This Politics with views totalling over 1 million all together.
Sen. Whitehouse asserted that the driving force behind Judge Barrett’s nomination was dark money being received by Republicans influencing them to nominate justices that would rule in the favor of wealthy donors. He also claimed that the 2010 decision of Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the government was not allowed to limit contributions made to political action committees or other forms of political communication by corporations or special interest groups as long as the donations were not made directly to candidates.
Referring to an investigation by The Washington Post, Sen. Whitehouse said the Republican party had been partaking in a $250 million dark money operation which had the sole goal of packing the courts with justices who will “reverse the long line of activist decisions --including Roe, Obergefell and the Obamacare cases,” Sen. Whitehouse said, citing directly from the Republican Party. “That is their stated objective and plan, why not take them at their word?”
Sen. Whitehouse went on to further point to at least 80 cases in which Trump administration justices had voted in line with the Republican party’s stated beliefs. He said “But it is not what is ahead of us. What is behind us is now, 80 cases under Chief Justice Roberts that have these characteristics, they were decided 5 - 4, by a bare majority, the 5 - 4 majority was partisan in a sense that not one Democratic appointee joined the five...and the last characteristic is that there us an identifiable Republican public interest and in every single case that donor interest one.”
In an Op-Ed released on NBC news, Sen. Whitehouse stated, “It almost doesn’t matter who President Donald Trump picked to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; it never really did. What really matters is who — and whose money — lurks behind the process of shaping the Supreme Court, and what’s at stake for all of us, from the voting public to the Republican senators rubber-stamping it.”
Confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett have concluded. The Senate is set to vote on her confirmation on October 22.