DANIEL VAUGHAN: The Fake Hysterical Attacks on the Supreme Court

 May 5, 2023

Did you hear the latest story about a Supreme Court Justice blowing by ethical considerations? After all the media stories about Justice Clarence Thomas, we're seeing these stories expand. After getting paid millions of dollars by a book publisher, this other Justice refused to recuse when that same publisher got sued and was before the Supreme Court. Imagine that, getting paid royalty checks by a litigant before you.

After the story dropped, MSNBC Morning Host Chris Scarborough told his viewers, "imagine what would happen if it were Justice Sotomayor...everybody at this table would be shocked and outrage and had be critical if this were a liberal justice." I mean, he has a point. Can you imagine a liberal justice with an ethics issue?

Oh wait, you should, because that's who this story is about: Justice Sonya Sotomayor. She was paid $3 million in book advances and royalties related to her book through Penguin Random House's publishing arm. Then, when Penguin got sued by another author and ended up before the high court, Sotomayor never recused herself. She also received checks during the day's votes went down.

The hypocrisy of Democrats on liberal judges.

The Daily Wire notes that when former-Justice Stephen Breyer got presented with a similar situation, he recused himself. Sotomayor did not. Why is this not the big story? Because the story the press wants to tell, with Democrats pushing it, is simple: the Supreme Court is illegitimate.

We've heard a lot about the trips of Justice Clarence Thomas. What about the other side? Senator Ted Cruz had this to offer up, "Justice Thomas was appointed in 1991. And the time since then, he's taken 109 reported trips, five international trips. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed in 1993. Two years later in the time she was on the court. She took 157 trips, including 28 international trips."

Was there any caterwauling on the Sunday political shows from Senators or Representatives about Ginsberg's travel itinerary? How about the way Ginsberg leaked like an open dam to her journalist friends at the end of every term?

My favorite story of the planned hits on the conservative Justices goes after Chief Justice John Roberts' wife. Journalists rushed out, breathlessly telling a tale about how Roberts' wife has made millions of dollars placing lawyers in high-profile law firms, some of which have cases before the Supreme Court.

Yes, you heard that right. The left has its collective panties twisted in knots because Justice Robert's wife is a legal recruiter. She helps lawyers get jobs in BigLaw. If that's a conflict, it'd be news to legal recruiters everywhere, who place lawyers in firms nationwide and appear before courts everywhere. 

The Dobbs leaker is the real threat to democracy.

I called these stories a hit job, but they're so pathetic that this description almost gives them too much weight. These are the empty cries of people who want to discredit an institution right when it's starting to deliver opinions for the current term.

You'll note what is conveniently missing from all these stories about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court from the left: not a single word about the leaker of the Dobbs opinion. That's notable because Justice Alito had this to say about the leaker:

"I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that's different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody," he says. He's certain about the motive: "It was a part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft . . . from becoming the decision of the court. And that's how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside—as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court."

He's right. That's precisely what the leaker tried to achieve. The press happily jumped at the opportunity to help intimidate the highest court in the land. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ignored this nonsense and continued its duties.

Justice Alito added in that interview, "Those of us who were thought to be in the majority, thought to have approved my draft opinion, were really targets of assassination."

Democratic attacks on democratic institutions.

This remains the real story of threats to our democracy. But the left is more interested in ginned-up controversies about Justice Thomas's friends and travel habits. They're more interested in the spouses of the Justices. But when a person leaks an opinion from the Supreme Court to intimidate the court and make the Justices targets of harassment and assassination, we get crickets.

Jeffrey Blehar gets this right in National Review when he notes, "If you want to know how progressives viewed the proper role of the Supreme Court when they assumed they would have control of it for the next generation, I advise you to look at Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet's infamously galvanizing 2016 memorandum: They aimed to use an anticipated progressive majority to shoot the conservative survivors of the culture wars (whom Tushnet likens to defeated Nazis, Imperial Japanese, and Confederates) and declare any disfavored conservative ruling as 'wrong the day it was decided.'"

That future didn't happen, so now we get a more extensive intimidation campaign. They're moving beyond that to delegitimize an entire government branch purely because they don't control it. It's all politics, all the way down. Not a single one of these so-called judicial activists cares even a little bit about judicial ethics.

If they did, they wouldn't be engaged in a smear and intimidation campaign against a democratic institution.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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