Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to subpoena conservative leader and private citizen Leonard Leo as part of their efforts at “reverse court-packing.”
The committee’s vote might be the first time in history lawmakers have issued a subpoena for private citizens apart from any committee legislative debate, as the Supreme Court has held that Congress must have a “valid legislative purpose” for its subpoenas. The move is part of an effort to target conservative Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Leo’s longtime friends. Democrats are hoping to access 25 years of personal records concerning such matters as travel and finances in the hopes of delegitimizing the justices.
Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have been spearheading Democrats’ crusade for reverse court-packing, having failed to advance legislation that would expand the number of Supreme Court justices to allow for the current Democrat president and Democrat Senate majority to stack the Supreme Court with several judicial liberals. The lawmakers are currently pushing a so-called “ethics” bill, S. 359 — the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (“SCERT”) Act — to disqualify conservative Supreme Court justices from key cases to help ensure liberal court decisions.
After years of attacks from Democrats, Supreme Court justices adopted a Code of Conduct in November. However, Democrats are already calling the code insufficient, “continuing their demands to impose a congressional code that would degrade the Supreme Court as an independent branch of government, making it subordinate to Congress,” Breitbart News previously reported.
Leo, the cochairman of the Federalist Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing originalism, responded to the subpoena in a statement to Breitbart News.
“Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have been destroying the Supreme Court; now they are destroying the Senate. I will not cooperate with this unlawful campaign of political retribution,” Leo said.
Democrats have plans to subpoena several other friends of Thomas and Alito, including Harlan Crow, a billionaire Republican megadonor who lives in Dallas, Texas, who made his money in real estate.
Crow’s office also criticized the committee for the “unlawful and partisan nature of the investigation” but said he is willing to “engage with the Committee in good faith.” He said in a statement to Breitbart News:
The Judiciary Committee Democrats’ violation of the Committee’s own rules to issue an invalid subpoena further demonstrates the unlawful and partisan nature of this investigation. Despite the unenforceability of the subpoena, Mr. Crow remains willing to engage with the Committee in good faith, just as he has consistently done throughout this process.
Mr. Crow offered extensive information responsive to the Committee’s requests despite his strong objections to its necessity and legality. So far, Committee Democrats have been dismissive of Mr. Crow’s good faith offer and unwilling to engage in constructive dialogue.
Committee Democrats have made intrusive demands of a private citizen that far exceed any reasonable standard and to this date have not explained why this request is necessary to craft legislation, particularly now that the Committee has completed its work on ethics legislation. Still, Mr. Crow maintains his readiness to discuss the matter further with the Committee.
The subpoenas also come after a long left-wing media campaign picking apart the justices’ finances and friendships, of which they deny any wrongdoing or conflict of interest.
Congressional Republicans are furious and have already pledged to unleash up to 150 subpoenas on liberals and Democrats in response to their subpoenas of conservative friends of Thomas and Alito.
Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.