The past five weeks has seen a flurry of media activity, clearly coordinated, against the right-of-center U.S. Supreme Court.
First, the outlet ProPublica began publishing a series of pieces “exposing” the well-known fact of Justice Clarence Thomas’ long-running friendship with billionaire real estate tycoon Harlan Crow, and alleging ethical improprieties pertaining to the justice’s purported failure to disclose certain information.
Second, Politico alleged a conflict of interest for Justice Neil Gorsuch in an old real estate transaction in his native Colorado that involved the CEO of a major law firm.
Third, Business Insider relied on a “whistleblower” to allege corruption on the part of Jane Roberts, the wife of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, due to her being a well-compensated legal recruiter.
Fourth, The New York Times ran a lengthy and meandering front-page story about the at-times coziness between George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and some of the Court’s right-of-center justices.
Each and every one of these collusive “gotcha” pieces is left-wing disinformation at worst, and grossly misleading at best.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Supreme Court justice having a long-running friendship with a wealthy political activist—and Justice Thomas did not actually fail to disclose anything for which extant canons of judicial ethics mandate disclosure, as The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto and others have painstakingly detailed. As for Justice Gorsuch, his stake in the underlying Colorado property was via a LLC, so he too did not skirt any mandatory disclosure rules. As for Jane Roberts, it is not exactly a state secret that prominent legal recruiters, and headhunters more broadly, can rake in lucrative commissions. And the Times’ polemic against Scalia Law is little more than a pitiful lament that the Left does not unilaterally control every single top-50 law school in America (although it is perilously close to doing so).
Nonetheless, despite these glaring factual omissions, misrepresentations and the misleading natures of these hit pieces, the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee still deemed it necessary to hold a hearing last week on “ethics reform.” To any reasonable observer not inebriated from that most potent stew of MSNBC chyrons and New York Times editorial headlines, it should be clear that Democratic elected officials are working hand in glove with the Beltway journalist establishment. That particular revolving door, after all, has a long and inglorious history.
It is incumbent upon sober elected officials, and the American people at large, to reject this obtuse, sprawling Democrat-media disinformation operation. The operation, for all its pompous bluster and ginned up faux hysteria, has one goal and one goal only: to delegitimize the U.S. Supreme Court, and to pave the way for ruinous policies that would irreparably damage, and ultimately destroy, that venerable institution.
In the year 2023, the Left has nearly completed its century-plus-long “march through the institutions”: The forces of wokeism and civilizational arson are now firmly ensconced in the corridors of power in Fortune 500 boardrooms, K-12 public school classrooms, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, academia, and myriad other traditional centers of American cultural clout. The last remaining bulwark for the Right, and for the forces of civilizational sanity more broadly, is the political arena: Republicans currently occupy 26 out of the 50 governor mansions, and have 22 state-level “trifectas” of consolidated gubernatorial/state legislative control (compared with only 17 for Democrats). At the federal level, Republicans retain a slim majority in the House of Representatives and, most important, conservatives control the Supreme Court. In 2022, moreover, the Court had an impressively conservative term, most prominently including its ruling to devolve to the democratic process all regulation of the Left’s favored pagan sacrament, abortion.
The current disinformation operation thus amounts to one big, crass intimidation tactic—a flexing of muscle by what the late Andrew Breitbart famously called the “Democrat-media complex.” The goal is to browbeat the justices into ruling the Left’s way in this term’s marquee cases—including the potentially imminent end of America’s sordid affirmative action regime in the twin pending cases out of Harvard and the University of North Carolina—or else feel Democrats’ political wrath.
That wrath could come in numerous forms, including judicial impeachment, jurisdiction-stripping legislation, or, perhaps most harrowing, the ever-looming threat of court-packing.
Let us be clear: That is the end goal here. “Ethics reform” is simply a convenient smokescreen—and not a particularly clever one, at that.
Supreme Court justices do not typically make a habit of speaking for themselves, Justice Samuel Alito’s recent electric interview with the Journal notwithstanding. It is thus necessary for those of us who can speak up to do so, and to defend the integrity, independence and institutional durability of what Alexander Hamilton famously called, in The Federalist No. 78, the “least dangerous” branch of the federal government. With any luck, the Democrat-media complex’s disinformation operation will fail miserably.