Senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday accused Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee of launching “a concentrated effort” to delegitimize the conservative majority Supreme Court.
Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called the hearing to discuss Supreme Court ethics reform in light of recent reports that Justice Clarence Thomas took vacations with a wealthy friend who is also a GOP donor.
But Ranking Member Graham, R-S.C., said the hearing was “a concentrated effort by the left to delegitimize this court and cherry pick examples to make a point.”
“This assault on Justice Thomas is well beyond ethics,” Graham said. “It’s about trying to delegitimize a conservative court that was appointed through the traditional process.”
Ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court Ethics Reform in the Hart Senate Office Building on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. ((Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images))
“Your response has been to pack the court,” Graham said. “Virtually every member of the Democratic caucus except maybe one or two are for expanding the number of judges to dilute the conservative majority that exists today.”
“So Mr. Chairman, from our point of view, this is not going to work. You can write all the articles you want to write. You can take all the shots that the conservative justices you want to take. You can picket before their houses, and it’s not gonna stop people from doing their job,” Graham said.
“This is an unseemly effort by the Democratic left to destroy the legitimacy of the Roberts Court, it’s put people at risk, it’s put their personal safety at risk,” he said.
Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (Associated Press)
Graham referenced Justice Elena Kagan, who was formerly the dean of Harvard Law School and by nature would raise money for the school during her post. But at as justice, she has not recused herself from cases involving law school, including the affirmative action case against the school argued last fall.
“I’m not saying she should,” Graham said, “I’m just saying there’s a very selective outrage here.”
Graham asked panelists whether they knew that late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 1998 donated an autographed copy of her decision in United States v. Virginia which allowed women to be enrolled in state schools, to be auditioned off at a fundraiser supporting the National Organization of Women’s Legal Defense Fund.
“Why didn’t all hell break loose in 1998? I think we all know the answer to that,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. ((AP Photo/Alex Brandon))
He also asked the panel if they were aware that in 1998 she received an award from the National Democratic Women’s Club.
“Can you imagine what would happen if Justice Roberts received an award from a Republican women’s club? I think we may read more about it,” he said.
“This is not about trying to update the ability of the court to be more transparent, it’s about an effort to destroy the legitimacy of this conservative court,” Graham said.