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Thune Condemns Democrats’ Crusade to Delegitimize the Supreme Court

“[A]t a time of deep political division, I can think of few things more irresponsible than attempting to shake Americans’ faith in the impartiality of the court and the legitimacy of our institutions.”

July 9, 2024

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about Democrats’ latest attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and noted that these ongoing attacks weaken our institutions.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, the Supreme Court recently concluded its term, and as predicted, Democrats met the decisions they didn’t like with howls of outrage.

“‘We will fight to rein in the outrageous abuses of this brazen Court,’ one Democrat offered temperately.

“‘We must expand the Court now,’ another cried, before it, quote, ‘destroy[s] our democracy and our planet.’

“Yet another announced that she would be filing impeachment articles against a Supreme Court justice or justices – presumably for the high crime of ruling in a way that she didn’t like.

“Mr. President, for years now – since at least the last administration – Democrats have been engaged in a concerted campaign to paint the Supreme Court as illegitimate and extreme.

“We’ve heard about ‘stolen seats’ and ‘MAGA justices’ and other melodramatic statements meant to persuade the American people that the Supreme Court has somehow been hijacked.

“But what it all boils down to, Mr. President, is this:

“Democrats think that the only legitimate Supreme Court is a Supreme Court that rules in line with Democrats’ policy preferences.

“That’s it, Mr. President.

“That’s what it all boils down to.

“Democrats can dress things up any way they like, with a host of invented reasons for why this court is illegitimate.

“But the truth of the matter is, Democrats’ real problem with this court is that a number of the justices have had the temerity to periodically deliver rulings that Democrats disagree with.

“If this court were universally delivering the outcomes that Democrats want, they would have no problem with the court or its Republican nominees.

“Mr. President, I could spend time debunking Democrats’ wild claims.

“I could point out just how often this court delivers unanimous decisions – yes, contrary to what you might think from Democrats’ lurid statements, the Democrat nominees and the Republican nominees are frequently in unanimous agreement.

“Or I could talk about just how often some of the court’s more conservative justices and some of the court’s more liberal justices agree.

“But I’m not going to do that today.

“Because I’d like to spend a minute talking about the profound irresponsibility Democrats are displaying.

“We hear a lot from Democrats about their concern for our institutions.

“And yet they are attempting to delegitimize a bedrock American institution all for the crime of periodically daring to deliver decisions that Democrats disagree with.

“And at a time of deep political division, I can think of few things more irresponsible than attempting to shake Americans’ faith in the impartiality of the court and the legitimacy of our institutions.

“Mr. President, I realize that Democrats don’t like it when a decision doesn’t go their way.

“And I completely understand that.

“I’ve disagreed with a few Supreme Court decisions in my time.

“But it’s one thing – a legitimate thing – to disagree with a decision.

“It’s another thing entirely to let your disagreement lead you into attempting to delegitimize a duly constituted court composed of nine duly confirmed justices.

“I hate to tell Democrats, but in a democratic republic such as ours, you don’t always get your way.

“And the proper response when you don’t get your way is not to attempt to tear down institutions or pack the court so that you always get the outcomes you want.

“Mr. President, before I close, there is one other thing I would like to address.

“And that is the disturbing anti-religious sentiment that has cropped up in recent Democrat attacks on the court.

“It’s not a new thing for Democrats, of course.

“We all remember the Democrat ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee telling then-circuit-court-nominee Amy Coney Barrett that, quote, ‘The dogma lives loudly within you’ – with the implication that anyone who takes his or her religious faith seriously can’t be trusted to hold public office.

“Another judicial nominee faced scrutiny for his membership in the Knights of Columbus – a Catholic organization that participates in such disturbing activities as serving veterans, raising money for the needy, and providing young people with scholarships.

“And of course during the last presidential election cycle, a Biden staffer stated that she’d prefer that orthodox Catholics, Muslims, and Jews not sit on the Supreme Court.

“Now it would appear that that anti-religious sentiment is back, with more than one Senate Democrat suggesting that certain members of the Supreme Court can’t be trusted because they happen to take their religious faith seriously.

“These Democrats take the fact that these members of the court have periodically ruled in ways that Democrats don’t like as evidence that they are attempting to impose their faith instead of the law – with the implication that religious people are incapable of distinguishing between the two.

“Mr. President, the Constitution is very clear on whether being a person of faith can disqualify you from public office.

“From Article Six: ‘… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’

“Let me just repeat that.

“‘NO religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’

“It’s becoming clear that that isn’t a section of our Constitution that Democrats agree with – or understand.

“And that is deeply disturbing.

“I shouldn’t have to tell Democrats that religious people are as capable as any other of distinguishing between their beliefs and the law.

“Or that our founders did not intend for religious people to be second-class citizens.

“Or that a Supreme Court justice disagreeing with a Democrat does not mean that the Supreme Court justice is attempting to impose his or her faith.

“It likely means that he or she is trying to impose the law – and the Constitution.

“And I’m a little tired of members of the Democratic Party promoting the un-American idea that taking your faith seriously makes you less qualified to participate in the public square.

“Mr. President, if Democrats really cared about protecting our democracy and American institutions, they would stop trying to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

“But with Democrats’ inability to deal with not getting their way – and with an upcoming election this November – I’m not holding my breath.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”