The Plot Against the Court
The attacks on Clarence Thomas are a coordinated political op by D.C. activists. They may get more than they bargained for.
If you thought the left was done trying to pack the Supreme Court, think again. The latest smear assault may be centered on their favorite target, Justice Clarence Thomas, but the real goal is to prepare the court for a hostile takeover by progressive ideologues. And just like the Russia-collusion hoax, Democrats are counting on the average voter falling for it.
There is a clear objective behind the rush to judgment against Thomas, and ensuring justice has nothing to do with it. Consider recent headlines, per the Wall Street Journal: “Supreme Court Term Begins Amid Questions about Its Legitimacy” (Washington Post), “Is the Supreme Court Facing a Legitimacy Crisis?” (New York Times), and “The Supreme Court Is Fighting Over Its Own Legitimacy” (CNN).
In April, the left-leaning journalism outlet ProPublica reported numerous flights and yacht trips taken by Thomas at the expense of Harlan Crow, a wealthy conservative philanthropist and close friend. ProPublica’s “scoop” was that the vacations went unreported in Thomas’s ethics filings. The group followed up by announcing that Thomas had failed to disclose some $45,000 in capital gains from selling a property to a company linked to Crow. (Thomas reportedly left the sale undisclosed because he hadn’t made a profit from it.)
ProPublica itself admitted that “Crow and his firm have not had a case before the Supreme Court since Thomas joined it,” yet wondered whether “Crow has had any influence on the justice’s views.”
Never mind that the court’s disclosure rules exempt personal hospitality, or that the disclosure mistake was more likely the result of error than fraud—ideologues were off and running in accusing the justice of exploiting a “loophole.”
If the left excels at anything, it is in creating the illusion of popular momentum. Before long, “progressive” outlets were criticizing Thomas’s “impropriety” and digging into his great-nephew’s education. Some darkly implied that Thomas had been bought and sold by a shadowy conservative billionaire. NPR went further: “Crow has really been funding the life of a Supreme Court justice and his family.”
News outlets soon discovered similar “revelations” about Chief Justice Roberts, whose wife is a successful recruiter specializing in law firms, and Justice Neil Gorsuch, who sold his stake in a house to a Democratic donor under asking price. Bombshells these are not, but it doesn’t take much for the left to cast legitimate activities as nefarious.
Just days later Senate Democrats announced they would hold a hearing “regarding the need to restore confidence in the Supreme Court’s ethical standards” by establishing an “enforceable code of conduct” (written, inevitably, by Democrats). The hearing came exactly one year after the Dobbs decision was leaked by a still-unidentified offender.
In May, Congressional Democrats took the next step: Threatening to impeach Thomas, the Supreme Court’s longest-serving member. “Everything is on the table,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told CNN. “Day after day, week after week, more and more disclosures about Justice Thomas—we cannot ignore them.”
“I frankly think it’s time for Justice Thomas to resign,” Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia told Politico. California’s Rep. Ted Lieu agreed: “Justice Thomas has brought shame upon himself and the Supreme Court of the United States. No federal district or appellate judge could have done what he did and gotten away with him. He should resign.”
Professional activists, unsurprisingly, went even further. In April, the court-packing group Demand Justice demanded Congress “subpoena” Thomas and Crow, releasing a poll supposedly showing that 70 percent of Americans support adopting an ethics code for the court.
Such a code, while perhaps appealing on the surface, is meant to erode the court’s independence by giving Congress a guillotine to hang over the justices’ necks. It would further politicize the court by turning it into a rubber-stamp for Democrats’ legislative agenda.
And that is exactly the goal of Demand Justice, a spin-off of the $1.7 billion “dark money” network run by Arabella Advisors. The group wants to establish term limits and a “binding code of ethics for justices, expand lower courts with strictly non-white judges, and add four new seats to the Supreme Court to “restore [its] balance.”
Demand Justice is probably the source of Democrats’ new interest in packing the courts with partisan judges, something Biden vowed to do on the 2020 campaign trail. Activists got their wish in early 2021 when the president organized a commission on “reforming” the Supreme Court in part by expanding it.
In 2022, Demand Justice’s PAC showered tens of thousands of dollars on far-left groups and Democratic candidates. It’s heavily funded by George Soros’s Open Society Policy Center, which funneled $2.5 million to the group in 2018 in part to support the group’s lobbying against President Trump’s judicial nominees. Demand Justice director Brian Fallon worked as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and then-Attorney General Eric Holder.
We also know that Fallon attended a secret meeting of the Democracy Alliance in 2018, before Demand Justice was officially launched, almost certainly to advise major Democratic mega-donors on the group’s efforts to block future Trump court nominees.
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This scheme has been years in the making. The first part of Democrats’ campaign to delegitimize the court was redefining “court-packing”—a term universally agreed upon since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president—to mean any seat not held by “progressive” judges.
Take it from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who tweeted that Democrats must “expand” the nation’s top court, “limit its terms,” and “adopt a code of ethics” because Republicans already “packed” it with conservative justices. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota agrees: To “save democracy” we must “expand the Court,” perhaps by as many as four seats—all to be filled by Biden.
These were terms ginned up by D.C. advocacy groups, not the American public. They’re yet more proof that the Democratic Party is led by a small band of far-left activists, not its voters. They loathe the Constitution’s system of checks and balances because it gets in the way of enacting their agenda. Given the chance, they will pack the Supreme Court with as many ideologues as it takes to see that agenda through.