Commentary: Make the Judiciary Great Again by Holding Senators Accountable

Following four days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in late March, the full Senate voted 53-47 last week to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an associate justice of the Supreme Court—fulfilling Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to name a black woman to the high court. Three Republican senators joined their Democratic colleagues in voting to confirm Jackson—Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Maine’s Susan Collins, and Utah’s Mitt Romney.

Imagine a slightly different scenario: a Republican president nominates someone to serve on the Supreme Court and asks a 50-50 Senate to confirm that person. You can be absolutely sure that Democrats would force the vice president to break the tie to get that nominee on the bench. Remember when, in 2016, President Trump nominated Betsy Devos to be secretary of education   and Vice President Mike Pence had to break a tie, even without an evenly split Senate?

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40 Pro-Life Leaders Expose Biden Supreme Court Justice Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s ‘Pro-Abortion Extremism’

Ketanji Brown Jackson

A coalition of nearly 40 national pro-life leaders sent a letter to the chairs of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Monday specifying the radical pro-abortion record of Biden Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Led by the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), the coalition’s letter was addressed to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as confirmation hearings began for Jackson, who was chosen by Biden following the announcement of his commitment to nominate a black woman to the nation’s highest court.

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Republicans Focus on Jackson’s Positions on Terrorists, Sex Offenders as Nomination Hearing Opens

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Republicans are stressing the need to closely review Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record as the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin hearings on Monday for the first black woman nominated to the Supreme Court.

The GOP is already facing accusations of racism from outlets such as the Daily Kos, Slate and Vanity Fair for questioning whether Jackson should be confirmed.

Jackson has been criticized for her vehement defense of terrorism suspects as a public defender. She has also faced concerns over a paper she wrote in the 1990s criticizing “excessiveness” in punishments for sex offenders.

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Commentary: Election Overseer Found Democratic National Committee, Chalupa Broke Rules over Ukraine, Then Reversed Its Finding After January 6

Though ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was never charged with conspiring with Russia, he did go to jail for, among other things, failing to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine. The Democratic National Committee operative who helped get him booted from the campaign should be investigated for the same violation, Republican Senators say.

Former DNC contractor and opposition researcher Alexandra “Ali” Chalupa not only worked closely with the Ukrainian Embassy and Clinton campaign, trading dirt on Manafort and Trump, but also Congress and the Obama White House, State Department and even the FBI. “At the center of the [Ukraine foreign influence] plan was Alexandra Chalupa,” GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee has asserted.

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Amazon and Facebook Spent More Money Than Ever Lobbying in 2021

Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.

Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.

Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.

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FBI Refuses to Explain Its Role in January 6

A top official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation repeatedly refused to disclose how many FBI agents and informants were involved in the Capitol protest on January 6, 2021.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning, Jill Sanborn, executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch, cited privileged protocols as to why she would not tell Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) the number of FBI assets that “actively participated” in the protest. “Sir, I’m sure you can appreciate that I can’t go into sources and methods,” Sanborn, who served as assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division when the protest erupted on January 6 and would have full knowledge of FBI undercover operations, told Cruz.

The Texas senator also demanded to know if FBI agents committed any violent crimes or incited any violent crimes on January 6. Sanborn again declined to answer. Presenting photos of Ray Epps, a man caught on video on both January 5 and 6, imploring people to “go into the Capitol” but has not been charged with any crime, Cruz asked Sanborn whether she knew Epps. “I’m aware of the individual, sir, I don’t have the specific background to him,” Sanborn replied.

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Justice Department Planning to Form Special Domestic Terrorism Unit

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to form a special unit focused on the threat of domestic terrorism, a top official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen announced the creation of the new unit in his opening remarks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

“I decided to establish a domestic terrorism unit to augment our existing approach,” Olsen said. “This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country.”

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Attorney General Garland Grilled by GOP Senators over Department of Justice Memo Targeting Parents at School Meetings

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday faced a litany of hard-edged Senate questions about agreeing to allow federal law enforcement to investigate alleged incidents of outspoken parents at school board meetings.

Garland, in a memo, agreed to responded to a Sept. 29 letter from the National School Board Association to President Biden asking that the FBI, Justice Department and other federal agencies to investigate potential acts of domestic terrorism at the meetings. Parents across the nation have been voicing their concerns about the curricula being taught to their children, in addition to instances like the one currently playing out in northern Virginia, in which there was an apparent coverup of the sexual assault of a female student in a bathroom.

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Senate GOP Releases Post-Election Report on Trump-Justice Dept, Contradicting Findings from Dems

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday released their review of President Trump’s management of the Justice Department after the 2020 presidential election, concluding the former president’s fears about election fraud were based on “legitimate concerns” – one day after Democrats who lead the chamber said their findings show Trump tried to install a loyalist atop the agency to investigate unfounded fraud claims.

The GOP’s 140-page review, titled, “In their own words: A factual summary of testimony from senior Justice Department officials related to the events from December 14, 2020, to January 3, 2021” offers starkly different conclusions from those reached by chamber Democrats.

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Senate Judiciary Committee to Review Supreme Court’s ‘Abuse’ of Shadow Docket

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Supreme Court’s use of the so-called “shadow docket” — a method of issuing brief late-night rulings on key cases like the Texas abortion law.

“The Supreme Court must operate with the highest regard for judicial integrity in order to earn the public’s trust,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, who is also the Senate majority whip, said in a statement. “This anti-choice law is a devastating blow to Americans’ constitutional rights — and the Court allowed it to see the light of day without public deliberation or transparency.”

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Stacey Abrams Spars with Republicans over Whether Georgia’s Elections Law Is Racist During Senate Hearing

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee sparred with Stacey Abrams Tuesday during a hearing on Democrats’ voting rights bill and election reforms that Republicans have introduced in states across the country.

The hearing consisted of testimony from officials on opposite sides of the issue, including Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens and Jan Jones, the Republican speaker pro tempore of the Georgia House, but most questions from lawmakers on both sides were directed towards Abrams. Democrats largely focused on GOP-led policies that they likened to those from the Jim Crow era, while Republicans blasted the comparison and said that the bills’ goals were to make it harder to cheat, not to vote.

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Ohio Prosecutors Support Bill to Force Convicted Rioters to Pay for Damages

Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.

Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.

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Barrett Urges Senate Judiciary Committee Not to Assume She Will Judge Like Scalia

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett urged the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday not to assume that she will judge like the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Supreme Court nominee repeatedly emphasized to senators in Tuesday’s hearing that though Scalia was one of her mentors and an “eloquent defender of originalism” and that Scalia’s “philosophy is mine,” that doesn’t mean she would always reach the same conclusions as Scalia.

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Senator Lindsey Graham Teases: The FBI ‘Lied Their Ass Off’ to Congress About the Steele Dossier

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday teased the release of evidence showing that the FBI “lied their ass off” to Congress regarding the reliability of the Steele dossier, which the bureau used as part of its investigation of the Trump campaign.

“I will tell you next week what I found,” the South Carolina Republican said in an interview on “Fox Sunday Futures” with Maria Bartiromo.

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Commentary: Trump’s Disruptive Energy vs. the Deep State

For the last 56 years, this time in November has been an occasion—at first pious and lachrymose, latterly perfunctory—to commemorate the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That event was certainly a cultural cataclysm. America was a changed place after November 22, 1963.

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Senate Sets Date For FISA Abuse Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Dec. 11 to examine the findings from a Justice Department inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s alleged abuse of the foreign intelligence surveillance court during the Trump investigation, the committee said on Monday.

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