Analysis, Speculation and Opinion II Staff| Conservative watchdog Judicial Watch accused Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island of “openly threatening the U.S. Supreme Court” in a complaint presented to the Rhode Island Judiciary.
Fox News reports:
The complaint pertains to a sternly worded brief he and other senators recently filed to the high court warning the justices to “heal” or face the possibility of restructuring. The Judicial Watch filing accuses Whitehouse of improperly performing legal work while the status of his license is inactive, as well as engaging in misconduct with the warning they directed at the court.
“[T]he brief Senator Whitehouse filed was unbecoming of the legal profession as it is nothing more than an attack on the federal judiciary and an open threat to the U.S. Supreme Court,” read Judicial Watch’s complaint.
Democratic Seantor Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York were also named by Whitehouse as “Counsel of Record.”
According to Fox News, “Judicial Watch attached a copy of a Rhode Island Judiciary record that lists Whitehouse’s attorney status as inactive. Fox News has confirmed that the current record still shows the inactive status. As a result, the organization claimed, Whitehouse engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when he filed the brief.”
Judicial Watch noted that Whitehouse listed a Washington, D.C., address on the brief, although he is not licensed to practice anywhere else. According to Judicial Watch, Whitehouse was trying to say that he had been acting as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., not Rhode Island, which is an unauthorized law practice.
A Whitehouse’s office representative told Fox News, “Senator Whitehouse is a member of the Supreme Court bar and filed nothing in Rhode Island,” going on to say, “This attack group has no credibility.”
According to Fox News, “On top of the allegations based on the status of Whitehouse’s law license, the complaint took issue with the substance of the brief, which Judicial Watch alleged ‘violated the Rhode Island Rules of Professional Conduct by attacking the federal judiciary and openly threatening the U.S. Supreme Court.’”
According to the brief, the Supreme Court issued rulings not based on the law, but rather on politics, saying that “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’”
Fox explains that people considered this “a warning that if the Supreme Court did not change its ways, Congress could expand the court by increasing the number of justices through a process known as court-packing. Several Democratic presidential candidates have supported this concept, even though Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out against it, telling NPR in July, ‘Nine seems to be a good number.’”
“Such a threat violates the spirit if not the letter of Rhode Island’s Rules of Professional Conduct,” the complaint stated, citing the Rules’ preamble, which prohibits using the law “to harass or intimidate others,” and says, “A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges.”
Whitehouse’s brief was met with condemnation from figures on both ends of the political spectrum. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., vowed to make sure Democrats never achieve their goal of expanding the court.
Senator Graham tweeted, “When you hear Democrats talking about expanding the Supreme Court……..they are talking about making the Court more liberal. This has been a Dream of the Left for decades. I will do everything in my power to ensure that dream is NEVER fulfilled!”
When you hear Democrats talking about expanding the Supreme Court……..they are talking about making the Court more liberal.
This has been a Dream of the Left for decades.
I will do everything in my power to ensure that dream is NEVER fulfilled!
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) August 14, 2019