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

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today led Senate Democrats — including U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. — 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, Merkley, Udall, Whitehouse and Stabenow were joined by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Chris Coons, D-Del., 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.” 

“For years wealthy special interests have fueled a take-over of our judicial branch to make sure that their grip on power and wealth isn’t disrupted by an inconvenience like democracy,” said Merkley. “It’s been catastrophically successful, as witnessed by the fact that the president and Senate Republicans, both of whom a majority of voters rejected, are trying to ram through yet another hardliner to help decide the coming election in the president’s favor. This report will set off a five-alarm fire for any American who believes in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our democracy is in peril.”

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.

A web version can be found here.