People For the American Way

Sen. Whitehouse Catapults Money in Politics to the Forefront of Gorsuch Supreme Court Hearing

Federal Update

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court of the United States. While the hearings covered a number of topics, money in politics emerged as a prominent and consistent focus of questioning.

Numerous members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Senators Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Leahy, Franken, and Hirono, touched directly on the problem of money in politics during their opening statements and subsequent questioning. While there were a number of memorable exchanges during the two days of direct questioning, one of the more viral moments came when Senator Whitehouse pressed Judge Gorsuch on his views pertaining to disclosureand the dark money groups supporting his confirmation.

In the exchange, Senator Whitehouse highlights the fact that the conservative Judicial Crisis Network spent more than $7 million opposing the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, while spending more than $10 million supporting Judge Gorsuch. When pressed about why these donors would want him on the bench—so much that they would spend $17 million on his behalf—Gorsuch deflected by suggesting that Whitehouse ought to ask them himself.

“I can’t, because I don’t know who they are,” said Whitehouse. “It’s just a front group.”

Throughout the hearings, Gorsuch continued to dodge questions, providing evasive responses that gave little to no insight into his judicial philosophy. Gorsuch’s record, however, speaks for itself. Judge Gorsuch has consistently sided with powerful interests, and has demonstrated that he believes the rights of corporations supersede those of real people.

Public opinion, however, suggests Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is far from what people actually want. A vast majority of Americans believe that there should be less money in politics, not more, and want reforms implemented to clean up the current system that is dominated by big money interests. This is one of many reasons why the senate should reject this confirmation and #StopGorsuch.