Washington, DC – Today, Demos, Every Voice, People for the American Way, and 23 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing John Bush’s confirmation to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth District and Damien Schiff’s confirmation to the Court of Federal Claims. The organizations opposed Bush and Schiff due to their troubling views on the issue of money in politics.
The organizations write that they are concerned about President Trump’s trend of nominating judges – including Justice Neil Gorusch and Judge Amul Thapar – who have a record of siding with wealthy donors and allowing money-in-politics protections to be further chipped away. Four decades of flawed Supreme Court rulings have gutted common sense protections against the power of money in our political system. In fact more than $3 billion – nearly half the money in the 2016 elections – can be tied to a few of the Supreme Court’s most damaging rulings.
Bush has espoused the radical view that public financing of elections is unconstitutional – a view which has been consistently rebuffed by the Supreme Court. Schiff authored an amicus brief in the Citizens United case supporting a legal theory that could lead to the end of all limits on what big donors and corporations can spend in politics. The letter notes that although Schiff will not face money in politics cases on the Court of Federal Claims, this appointment could easily be a stepping-stone to a federal court that does handle relevant cases.
The letter, joined by major national groups such as the National Organization for Women, Service Employees International Union, and Communications Workers of America, expresses their opposition ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on the two nominations. This letter comes on the heels of robust opposition from numerous organizations and members of Congress to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation based upon his money-in-politics record. Every Democratic Senator opposed Gorsuch’s confirmation, with at least two-dozen specifically citing his record on campaign finance as a reason. Twenty-four organizations and numerous senators also opposed Judge Thapar’s confirmation to the 6th Circuit because of his record on campaign finance.
“John Bush and Damien Schiff would side with big donors to destroy the few remaining safeguards against big money dominating our politics completely. This risks further skewing a system in which the strength of our voices already depends upon the size of our wallets,” said Adam Lioz, Counsel & Senior Advisor, Demos.
David Donnelly, President and CEO, Every Voice, said: "Donald Trump is hell-bent on nominating judges who'll hand our elections over the to the highest bidder and make it even harder for everyday people to make their voices heard in our government. We oppose the nominations of Bush and Schiff because our democracy should work for all of us, not just an elite few.”
“The American people want a court system that respects our constitutional values—not one that favors the wealthy and corporations. John Bush and Damien Schiff have supported legal theories that would allow even further erosion of limits on big money in politics,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way. “At a time when we are seeing unprecedented attacks on our democracy, it is more important than ever to have judges and justices who don’t believe our elections should be sold to the highest bidder.”