by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has attracted an ethics complaint and vigorous criticism from conservatives after raising the prospect of court-packing in a new legal filing before the Supreme Court.
Depending on one’s perspective, Whitehouse’s extraordinary brief is either a cogent indictment of the court’s seemingly partisan valence or particularly blunt strong-arming of the nation’s highest judicial tribunal.
“Senator Whitehouse’s bald-faced threat to ‘heal’ or face the consequences is inappropriate and shows just why an independent judiciary is essential to our system of government,” Elizabeth Slattery, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The justices should, and most likely will, ignore attempts to intimidate them, and instead focus on what the Constitution requires.”
“And further, the facts don’t bear out Senator Whitehouse’s claim that the justices are driven by a partisan agenda,” Slattery added. “Just look at the voting records of the newest justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who ended up on opposite sides in nearly a third of cases last term. That doesn’t look like the outcome-oriented judging to me.”
Regular “Locker Room” readers might remember Whitehouse as the senator who attacked the John Locke Foundation from the Senate floor in 2016.