Charles Hurt: ‘Demand Justice’ Fight Back — Against Judges Who Like the Constitution

NEW YORK -- Less than one hour after President Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee, Demand Justice, a new progressive activist group founded by former members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, already put up the website, exclaiming: “We need to demand that the Senate defeat the Brett Kavanaugh nomination.”

Anti-democratic Democrats opened up a new front in their relentless war on an independent judiciary in America.

An absurdly-named special-interest group calling itself “Demand Justice” filed a formal complaint with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of wrongdoing in stacking the federal judiciary with judges who believe in abiding by the Constitution.

On the face of it, the complaint is funny because it suggests that “Demand Justice” is so unfamiliar with the actual Constitution that they don’t even know how judges are installed on the federal bench. According to the Constitution, federal judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

“Demand Justice” is apparently upset over President Trump’s impressive first-term record confirming nearly 200 judges to the federal bench, a record one-fifth of the federal judiciary. If “Demand Justice” had actually read the Constitution, they would know that their complaint lies not with Mr. McConnell but with the American voters who gave Republicans control of the White House and the Senate.

Their specific complaint gets even daffier upon closer inspection.

The swamp-based special-interest group is upset that a judge on the D.C. Circuit stepped down in March, opening a vacancy on the powerful second-highest court in the country for Justin Walker, a Kentucky judge with ties to Mr. McConnell.

In addition to constitutional illiteracy, “Demand Justice” also appears to suffer from a poor grasp of history. For better or for worse, federal judges — including Supreme Court nominees from both parties — often come from the ranks of jurists who have long-standing relationships with lawmakers in Washington.

That is why President Bill Clinton felt confident that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would not turn into some rogue constitutionalist on the high court. And it is why President George W. Bush felt confident Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would not turn the court into some kind of uncontrollable super-legislature.

Specifically, the group is demanding to know whether Mr. McConnell bribed the D.C. Circuit judge to step down, thus creating the vacancy for the Kentucky jurist. Now, mind you, these people offer not a whiff of evidence suggesting such a bribe. But what difference does that make?

Welcome to the swamp.

The baseless accusation is even more audacious for anyone with the faintest memory of the decades-long onslaught these people have waged against an independent judiciary in America.

A cache of internal Senate Judiciary Committee memos exposed during Mr. Bush’s first term revealed extensive efforts by Democrats on the committee — working with outside special-interest groups — to rig the federal judiciary to get certain outcomes in high-profile cases before the courts.

In one memo to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, staffers reported that they had privately huddled with a lobbyist who urged committee Democrats to stall a Bush nominee to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until after that court ruled on a landmark affirmative action case.

The lobbyist “would like the Committee to hold off on any 6th Circuit nominees until the University of Michigan case regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education is decided,” staffers urged the so-called “Lion of the Senate.”

“Rumors have been circulating that the case will be decided in the next few weeks,” they added.

But even Kennedy staffers — famous for their shamelessness — knew they were involved in some dirty business.

In the same memo, they allowed that they “are a little concerned about the propriety of scheduling hearings based on the resolution of a particular case. We are also aware that the 6th Circuit is in dire need of additional judges.”

Oh, but to hell with it! “Nevertheless,” they wrote, going on to detail their plans.

In the end, their corrupt plan worked. Mr. Bush’s nominee got stalled until the court could rule 5-4 to uphold the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative action program.

It’s funny. Somehow, “Demand Justice” did not seem to have a problem stacking the courts and rigging the judiciary back then. And that tells you all you need to know about them.

• Charles Hurt is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He can be reached at or @charleshurt on Twitter.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.