October 08, 2020

Senate Democrats Release New Report Detailing the Assault on Our Democracy by Republican-appointed Judges

The issue-based report released as part of Senate Democrats’ Captured Courts project

"Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, as well as judges nominated by previous Republican presidents, are responsible for the vast majority of the decisions that have resulted in voter suppression and made it nearly impossible to regulate political spending"

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.), Tom Udall, (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.), and Debbie Stabenow, (D-Mich.), today led Senate Democrats in releasing a new report outlining the ways campaign finance laws and the right to vote have been gradually dismantled by conservative Supreme Court justices, with Donald Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee posing further threats to American democracy.  

This is the fourth in a series of Captured Reports by Senate Democrats. In the report, “Captured Courts: The Judicial Assault on Democracy,” the senators highlighted ways the conservative justices on the Court have made it harder and harder for Americans to have their voices heard in our democracy by sanctioning unlimited political spending and undercutting voting rights. The senators also documented the dark-money groups behind this effort and how a number of them are working to undermine access to the ballot in the 2020 election. 

Wyden, Udall, Whitehouse and Stabenow were joined by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Chris Coons, D-Del., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. in releasing the report.

“We ought to be making it easier for folks to vote, not harder. Yet, the Supreme Court – an institution that should be protecting this most fundamental right – has been undermining it. The Roberts’ Court has advanced an anti-voting agenda, making it harder for people to cast a ballot,” Wyden said. “And with Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell working to jam through another right-wing nominee to the Supreme Court, I fear the Court’s rulings with regard to voting rights are only going to get worse. This country needs a justice like Ruth Bader Ginsburg who championed this fundamental right, not someone who will work to keep Americans’ voices from being heard.” 

“I am inspired by the American voters who are even now navigating a pandemic to make their voices heard,” said Udall, lead author of the For The People Act. “But the fact is, thanks to years of extreme decisions from far-right judicial nominees, it’s too hard to vote and the voices of the American people are too often drowned out by big money. Unfortunately, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has hacked away at our voting rights and campaign finance protections for years. And now Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are focused on pushing another radical Republican justice on the bench before the election to further stack the deck in favor of the wealthy and well-connected, and against the American voter. The American people are waking up to the unpopular agenda of the Republicans’ captured courts—they’re ready to restore our democratic checks and balances and protect their voices and their right to vote.” 

“Over decades, corporations and right-wing ideologues led a dark-money campaign to capture our courts and drown out the voices of everyday Americans. That campaign led to hugely destructive Supreme Court decisions, like Citizens United and Shelby County. Now, the big donors are stampeding Republicans to install another Supreme Court Justice whom they expect will rule in favor of the big donors’ interests every time,” said Whitehouse. “This report shines an important light on that scheme, so the American people can stand up and say ‘enough’.” 

Key Takeaways from the Captured Courts: The Judicial Assault on Democracy:

- Recent Republican-appointed Justices’ Supreme Court rulings have opened the door for unlimited political spending by special interests, making it harder for the voices of Americans to be heard.
- These decisions have undercut free and fair elections and led to voter suppression. 
- Outside conservative groups, many of which are not required to disclose their donors, have spent millions of dollars to advance their policy agendas before the courts. A number of these same groups are now working to undermine access to the ballot in the 2020 election. 
- President Trump’s judicial nominees, as well as judges nominated by previous Republican presidents, are responsible for the vast majority of the decisions that have resulted in voter suppression and made it nearly impossible to regulate political spending.

The full report is available here.