Senate Judiciary Republicans Back Leonard Leo in Rejecting, Defying Democrat Subpoena, Say Durbin Violated Rules

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: Right-wing activist Leonard Leo, C, attends the 2023 Antonin
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Thursday rejected the partisan Democrat subpoena against Federalist Society cochairman Leonard Leo, saying it is “unlawful and politically motivated.”

An attorney for Leo said he would not comply with a subpoena issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, saying it is “unlawful and politically motivated.” The Federalist Society is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) educational organization.

David B. Rivkin, Jr. wrote in the letter, “For the reasons previously set forth, Mr. Leo is not complying with the Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee members’ unlawful and politically motivated subpoena.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans in November 2023 have laid out the timeline through which committee Democrats did not follow committee rules and violated the chamber’s standing rules.

Judiciary Committee Republicans wrote in a summary of events:

  • “Chairman Durbin cut off debate and the offering of amendments by immediately ordering a roll call vote to authorize the subpoena (contrary to an earlier statement to Ranking Member Graham).
  • Ranking Member Graham objected, and demanded a roll call vote on the decision to end debate, which he is entitled to request under Committee Rule IV.
  • In response to Ranking Member Graham’s objection, Chairman Durbin moved to suspend Committee Rule IV—he later clarified that this was a motion to end debate.
  • A roll call vote was held on the motion to end debate. The motion failed under Committee Rule IV, because no Republican voted in favor of the motion as required. The clock struck noon.
  • Chairman Durbin then ordered a roll call vote to authorize the subpoena. His calling the vote violated Committee Rule IV because the motion to end debate failed.
  • Ranking Member Graham attempted to make a point of order regarding the rule violation, but Chairman Durbin refused to entertain his point of order.
  • The clerk called the roll, with no Republicans present.
  • During the roll call vote, because no Republicans were present, the Committee lacked a quorum to transact business as required by Committee Rule III. Committee Rule III requires two members of minority for a quorum.
  • The roll call vote on the subpoenas happened after 12:00 p.m. when the two hour rule was invoked. This violated the Senate Standing Rule 26 (5)(a).”

Republicans continued:

What does this mean?  Chairman Durbin prevented the Republican Members from discussing or offering amendments in violation of committee rules.  When Ranking Member Graham challenged this, Chairman Durbin refused to allow the challenge, and proceeded to the vote.  Without a quorum needed under the committee rules, and after the two hours for committee activity permitted under the Senate Rules had elapsed, Chairman Durbin proceeded with an illegitimate vote on the subpoena.  Since the subpoena is an internal committee matter, it cannot be “cured” by the “cleansing clause” in Rule 26 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

“These new statements, along with the ones cited in our July 25 Letter and many others, remove any doubt, if there was any to begin with, that the Committee is targeting Mr. Leo out of hostility toward his political views and associations,” Rivkin wrote in an October 19 letter.

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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