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Thune Condemns Democrats’ Dangerous Attacks on the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court

“Democrats’ rhetoric – and proposed response to a Supreme Court that issues decisions they disagree with – has crossed a line.”

July 11, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor and condemned Democrats’ threatening rhetoric about the Supreme Court. Thune noted that in response to some of the court’s recent decisions, Democrats’ responses have gone from simply disagreeing with judicial outcomes to proactively attacking the court’s legitimacy.

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

Mr. President, the Supreme Court finished up its term recently by releasing several decisions that did not result in Democrats’ preferred outcomes, and the hysteria was instant – and, unfortunately, predictable.


“‘Disappointing and cruel,’ the Senate Democrat leader chastised one decision.


“‘Unacceptable and indefensible,’ another Democrat senator said.


“‘Horrifying,’ said yet another.


“And then there was the president, who said, and I quote, ‘This is not a normal court.’


“‘Not a normal court.’


“Never mind the fact that this court, like others before it, is composed of nine justices duly nominated and confirmed in accordance with the Constitution sitting and interpreting the law.


“Apparently the fact that this court has issued decisions Democrats disagree with makes this ‘not a normal court.’


“Mr. President, here is the list of thoroughly unradical decisions that have so horrified members of the Democrat Party.


“The court ruled that universities cannot make admissions decisions based on the color of someone’s skin.


“The court ruled that the president does not have the right to create a massive student loan “forgiveness” program without clear authority from Congress.


“And the court ruled that the First Amendment does actually protect Americans from being forced by the government to speak messages with which they disagree.


“These are the rulings that members of the Democrat Party consider ‘cruel’ and ‘indefensible.’


“Mr. President, continuing with the theme of Democrat hysteria, the Democrat leader said on Sunday that the Supreme Court had achieved ‘dangerous’ and ‘regressive’ policies ‘completely at odds with what the vast majority of Americans want.’


“I’m not sure he has that quite right.


“I know the recent decisions are at odds with what the Democrat Party wants.


“But ‘the vast majority of Americans’ do not seem to be at odds with the court’s decisions.


“Take the court’s decision in favor of the First Amendment.


“It turns out that more Americans support that decision than oppose it.


“The same goes for the court’s student loan decision. 


“And public opinion is decidedly in favor of the court’s decision ruling that the Constitution does not allow universities to make admissions decisions on the basis of race.


“One poll found that 52 percent of the American people approve of the court’s decision, while just 32 percent disapprove.


“Another poll found that 59 percent of Americans approve of the court’s decision, while just 27 percent disapprove.


“It seems that the court is a lot more in line with Americans than the Democrat Party would like to think.


“Mr. President, let me offer a few more statistics about this supposedly abnormal court.


“Nearly half of the cases decided by the Supreme Court this term were decided unanimously.


“Nearly half.


“That means that all those ‘extreme’ Republican-nominated justices and all of the court’s Democrat-nominated justices were in unanimous agreement almost half of the time.


“And that’s not all.


“At least one of the court’s so-called liberal justices was in the majority in more than 80 percent of cases.


“That means that more than 80 percent of the time at least one ‘liberal’ justice agreed with the court’s ‘conservatives.’


“Kind of makes the Supreme Court seem … not very extreme.


“Yes, there have been a handful of decisions where all the liberal justices have disagreed with the majority opinion.


“But that is hardly unprecedented.


“There have been plenty of cases in previous years where most or all of the so-called conservative justices have disagreed with the majority opinion.


“And I don’t remember Democrats having any problems with the legitimacy of those outcomes …


“Mr. President, Democrats’ utter hysteria in the face of some pretty mainstream Supreme Court decisions could almost be amusing.


“But it’s not.


“Because Democrats’ rhetoric – and proposed response to a Supreme Court that issues decisions they disagree with – has crossed a line.


“I completely respect Democrats’ right to be upset at, and disagree with, Supreme Court decisions.


“I’ve disagreed with a few myself.


“But there’s disagreement, and then there’s attempting to undermine a branch of our government.


“And Democrats are engaged in the latter.


“Over and over, Democrats’ responses go beyond disagreement or outrage at the court’s decisions and cross the line into attacking the court’s legitimacy.


“A number of Democrats have gone even further, directly or indirectly calling for expanding the court or otherwise altering it to create a court that will rule in line with where Democrats think it should be.


“Mr. President, it’s difficult to overstate just how dangerous Democrats’ rhetoric is.


“Democrats are not only fostering a sense of distrust about a court that is completely legitimate in every way save for the fact that Democrats don’t like some of its decisions, they are proposing so-called solutions that would permanently and completely destroy faith in the Supreme Court as an impartial interpreter of the law.


“Do Democrats seriously imagine that their proposals to, quote, ‘restor[e] faith in our courts’ would do anything but further divide the American public and encourage one half of the population to regard the court as an arm of the Democrat Party?


“Do Democrats seriously think they can pack the court with their preferred justices and not set off a permanent battle in which the party in power adds or subtracts justices to achieve what it decides is balance?


“If Democrats have their way, we will be looking at a future in which the Supreme Court is nothing but an arm of the party in power in the other two branches, with the number of justices constantly changing to achieve the governing party’s preferred outcomes.


“There are names for systems of government in which the party in power controls the outcome in the courts.


“And they are names like ‘dictatorship’ and ‘despotism.’


“Mr. President, not getting your way at the Supreme Court is a pretty poor reason to undermine our system of government.


“But I’m starting to wonder just how well Democrats understand our system of government, given their apparent belief that the outcome should always be in their favor.


“That’s not the way it works in our democratic republic.


“In our system of government, you win sometimes and you lose sometimes.


“And when you lose, you fight hard to gain ground and persuade others of the rightness of your position.


“You do not attempt to rig the system so that the outcome will always be in your favor.


“And – hopefully – you do not set out to undermine faith in the system by suggesting that any outcome that you don’t like is not just incorrect but illegitimate.


“Mr. President, it is deeply disturbing that so many Democrats – and Democrat leaders – are participating in this campaign to attack the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.


“And I hope that cooler heads will prevail before they do permanent damage to our system of government.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”