In a 25 minute speech he introduced with “to business,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse continued his macabre tale of how the Supreme Court has been “captured” by a big money scheme to secure influence and favorable results — this time emphasizing how even even a conservative Republican had to be sacrificed to service the entrenched money’s far-right goals.
Comparing the current Court to the Railroad Commission captured by 19th century “robber barons,” Whitehouse described a scenario today where billionaires — “creepy billionaires” in his terminology — have funneled millions of dollars to court operative Leonard Leo to infiltrate the SCOTUS and secure influence in the nation’s highest court to advance their interests.
Whitehouse notably asserts that Leo, a Federalist Society “employee,” established his credibility among the far-right billionaires by historically hobbling the Supreme Court nomination of conservative Harriet Miers. (Whitehouse describes Leo as the man “who helped you kill the nomination to the Supreme Court of President George W. Bush‘s friend and White House Counsel Harriet Miers, a political hit job from the far-right against a Republican President’s nominee, which produced none other than Sam Alito.”)
[NOTE: Miers was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2007, but faced powerful opposition from both parties and had Bush withdraw her nomination.]
Whitehouse names various “front groups” associated with Leo, which he says took in millions of dollars to also help block the later nomination to the SCOTUS of Merrick Garland — a Barack Obama appointee — with the help of Sen. Mitch McConnell.
McConnell and others — and their PACs — received huge sums of money, Whitehouse says, that bought the billionaires “loyalty and obedience from Republican political figures.”
Let’s say… 🤔 https://t.co/ENI0w4S1BV— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) September 19, 2023
Whitehouse has been unrelenting in his criticism of Leo and the Federalist Society, and also directly of what he characterizes as the ethical abdication of SCOTUS Justices Clarence Thomas and Alito, who he says used technicalities that “allow nondisclosure in the disclosure laws” to accept huge gifts and “hospitality” directly from billionaires.
The speech above is number 23 in a series of speeches Whitehouse has given on “the scheme” and the “capture” of the Supreme Court. So far the ethics requirements of the Court have not changed as a result — neither has Congress acted to require greater transparency in the Court’s interactions and payments, nor has the Roberts court made changes to increase the requirements of the Justices to police themselves. Here is a playlist of all 23 of Whitehouse’s SCOTUS capture videos.