For once, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) is on the side of transparency.
No, I’m not talking about his complaints that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose personal travel paid for by a personal friend—which was permitted without a reporting requirement until a revision earlier this year of the Judicial Conference of the United States’ disclosure rules.
I’m talking about how he gave away his endgame in an April 26 fundraising email by demanding that Thomas resign from the court or that Congress pack the court by increasing the number of justices from nine to 13.
Connolly, of course, has no real concern about Supreme Court ethics. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg took a trip to Israel in 2018 paid for by an Israeli billionaire whose company’s patent case the court declined to hear just one year before—handing that company a victory—I don’t recall any braying about Supreme Court ethics from Connolly. Nor did he complain that the justice who took more all-expenses-paid junkets between 2004 and 2019 was Justice Stephen Breyer, another of the court’s liberals.
And Connolly’s alternative suggestion—packing the Court—makes plain his motivation is purely ideological, preservation of American institutions be damned.
It’s no accident Connolly is performing for his base now, six months after the Dobbs decisions overturning Roe and the coming decision this term in the Harvard admissions case that may well strike down parts or all of the court’s 2003 affirmative action decisions.
Connolly’s progressive base is used to having the court impose by judicial diktat what it cannot enact through a proper legislative process. Connolly’s tantrum is a recognition of the panic in the progressive disco that the only path for progressives’ unpopular agenda is through Congress.
I don’t believe in coincidences – especially coincidences that involve multiple left-leaning outlets like ProPublica and Politico nearly simultaneously writing stories attacking Thomas’s ethics and then turning their attention to Justice Neil Gorsuch. No, this is a coordinated hit designed to remove conservative justices or, if that doesn’t work, taint the court’s decisions as corrupt.
But Republicans see the game Connolly and his ilk are playing. Republicans understand that Democrats are prepared to destroy conservative justices, and even destroy the credibility of the Supreme Court itself, to regain the judicial supremacy they once enjoyed. Debra Katz, attorney for Christine Blasey Ford during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, admitted as much when she said her goal was to “put an asterisk” next to Kavanaugh’s name.
Connolly said in his email that increasing the number of justices to 13 would bring back “balance and legitimacy” to the court. Some standard, that. Heads I win tails the court is illegitimate and out of balance. Who does Connolly think he’s fooling?
Republicans have been lectured incessantly about norms from Democrats who claim they are protecting democracy. Yet every Democrat loss is accompanied by a demand to change the rules. Lose control of the Supreme Court? Add justices or impeach the current ones! Lose control of the Senate? Make D.C. and Puerto Rico states! Lose the presidency? Russia (2016) or Diebold (2004) did it!
New Deal Democrats, who famously rejected FDR’s attempt to pack the court, had more institutional respect than today’s Democrats. Somewhere along the way, Democrats—Connolly among them—decided that raw power was more important than preserving America’s institutions.
Of course, Connolly’s ethics concerns are curiously one-sided. He’s utterly uninterested in the possibility, supported by already revealed hard evidence, that foreign powers paid large sums of money to Biden family members—some of it possibly earmarked for the “Big Guy” himself to influence their decision-making.
He can’t even rouse himself to object to County Chairman Jeff McKay’s taxpayer-funded car, which McKay has improperly (and recklessly) driven to political events and for other personal uses in violation of state law.
No one is fooled by Connolly’s selective legal and ethical concerns. It is obvious that where Connolly stands depends on where Democrats sit.
Maybe one day we’ll all agree on the same set of ethics rules to apply. But I’m not counting on Connolly to be a part of that solution.
Michael E. Ginsberg is the chairman of the 11th Congressional District Republican Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.
I just lost a bet with Fredy Burgos.
Gerry was a liar when he was a Fairfax Supervisor. Tiger hasn't changed his stripes.
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