by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Senate Democrats’ attempt to get conservative legal activist Leonard Leo to turn over information on any travel, gifts, or payments involving Supreme Court justices is being sharply criticized as “modern-day McCarthyism.”
Carrie Severino, president of the JCN, slammed the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee for requesting the information from Leo as an “attempt to punish and silence” him. Leo declined to offer documents in a letter to the committee on Tuesday.
“Senators Whitehouse and Durbin don’t like anything about Leonard Leo’s political views, and that’s why he’s a top target on their ‘enemies list,'” Severino tweeted. “Their modern-day McCarthyism is an attempt to punish and silence Leo and anyone who agrees with him. It’s not going to work.”
Leonard had until Tuesday to hand over the information, which was requested by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), but he rejected the demand as an infringement of two of his constitutional rights, including his First Amendment right to free speech.
In the letter to the Senate Democrats, legal counsel for the co-chairman of the Federalist Society also decried the request as “political retaliation.
“Durbin and Whitehouse first requested the information earlier this month, when they said they were seeking information from Leo along with two “right-wing billionaires implicated in recent reporting on the Supreme Court’s ethics crisis.”
“To date, Chief Justice Roberts has barely acknowledged, much less investigated or sought to fix, the ethics crises swirling around our highest Court,” the two senators said in a joint statement at the time. “So if the Court won’t investigate or act, Congress must. Answers to these questions will help the Committee’s work to create reliable ethics guardrails at the Court, under Congress’s clearly established oversight and legislative authority.”