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Sen. Whitehouse Takes Aim At Court-Packing Federalist Society

Now that he’s got the gavel, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is about to drop the hammer on the Federalist Society. Whitehouse often has expressed his concern about what he sees as the outsized influence the ultra-conservative group has had on who gets appointed to federal courts, especially the Supreme Court.

Today, as chairman of the subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Whitehouse is convening a hearing entitled “What’s Wrong with the Supreme Court: The Big-Money Assault on Our Judiciary.”

Punchbowl News reports that Whitehouse will have the subcommittee investigate the “dark money” funding and secrecy behind Federalist Society’s advocacy of conservatives for federal judgeships, including its funding of advertising campaigns by the Judicial Crisis Network for those nominees. Once confirmed to the bench, Whitehouse said, those judges have certain cases steered in their direction by special interest groups intent on paring back government regulations. He says tens of millions of dollars have been spent on the effort, essentially giving the Federalist Society control of the third branch of government.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Whitehouse has an ally in the House of Representatives. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) chairs the subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet for the House Judiciary Committee and has the power to issue subpoenas to obtain records showing who is funding the Federalist Society’s efforts.

The Rhode Island senator also told Punchbowl News he is considering proposing legislation that would require ads for judicial nominees to be treated like campaign ads, which would mean the source of funding for them would need to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.



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