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Analysis | No, Democrats Didn’t Threaten to Pull Funding to Protect the Supreme Court


Sometimes you watch a congressional hearing, and you just know something is bound for the prime-time airwaves of Fox News.

Such was the case when it was Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) turn to speak. a Supreme Court ethics hearing Tuesday The Judiciary Committee hearing was held in light of recent reports of undisclosed luxury trips taken by Justices Clarence Thomas and Paid for by a Billionaire GOP Donor,

Hawley used his time with the microphone to accuse Democrats of effectively threatening to withhold security funding from the Supreme Court if the court did what the Democrats wanted on ethics.

This was a highly speculative and circumstantial matter which Hawley nevertheless presented as fact. And the Democrats immediately denied it.

holly cited one month old Letter From 15 Senate Democrats to top Republicans and Democrats on the subcommittee in charge of the Supreme Court budget. The letter, which came shortly before Thomas’ disclosure, blocked funding until Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. informed Congress that the court had “implemented a public code of ethics for justices”. requested a withholding of $10 million.”

Then Holley got to the crux of the matter.

“It’s an interesting number to me,” he said, “$10 million. $10 million. Why $10 million?”

After this the employees of Holley came up with a placard which showed that Supreme Court’s 2024 budget request, He noted that this includes $4,028,000 in security funding from the Chips and Science Act and $5,897,000 in additional security funding.

“Four plus six equals 10,” said Holly, rounding up the above figures. He said, “So in other words, the threat is this: We will deny you protection unless you do what we want. … Now the members of this body say that we will protect you, your families, your children.” Will keep you from safety until you do what we want. Extraordinary.”

Hawley cited a man who was arrested last summer Alleged Plot to Assassinate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and other “credible threats” against judges. Republicans have also lamented that despite such protests, people protesting outside justices’ homes have not been arrested. seems invalid,

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) echoed the argument during his round, saying the letter is “the Supreme Court’s threat to cut funding to security.” The Left is ready to put the lives of judges in danger.

both senators promoted them argument on twitter,

But there is no evidence that security funding has been specifically targeted – security was not mentioned in the letter – and Democrats deny they will pull the funding. Dollar figures prove nothing, and $10 million is a round number.

The Supreme Court’s 2024 budget request is $150 million, a figure that includes salaries, benefits, travel, rent, equipment and building maintenance in addition to security. As security funds total around $10 million, so do the equipment requests ($10.8 million). Personnel compensation and benefits totaled approximately $89 million, approximately $10.6 million more than the fiscal year 2022 amount. And security costs aren’t the only increase requested; The total sought is $17 million more than in fiscal year 2023.

The Washington Post reported last month that Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee in charge of the court’s budget, said will really try to take advantage of the budget for a code of conduct. (Withholding funding is a powerful strategy sometimes employed by appropriators, and the power of Congress to enact ethics codes for justice is in dispute,

Van Hollen did not provide details at the time, but his spokeswoman told The Post on Tuesday that his office “is not aware of any member suggesting withholding security funding for the Supreme Court.”

“Sen. Van Hollen continues to evaluate options to ensure that the court establishes a code of conduct, but this is not one of them,” spokeswoman Francesca Amodio said.

Asked what other evidence exists for the claim that Democrats were threatening to withhold $10 million in security funding, Hawley spokeswoman Abigail Marone cited a lack of direct Democratic rebuttal at Tuesday’s hearing. She again pointed to the numbers: “It would be an astonishing coincidence that Democrats threatened the Supreme Court withholding funds requested for judicial protection in this year’s budget.”

In addition to the denial from Van Hollen’s office, the letter’s lead author, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), told the Post in a statement: “Our appropriations request was clearly not targeted at revoking the same security funding that All signatories have ratified recently.

(This was a reference to the Chips and Science Act, which included $20 million for Supreme Court security In response to the events of last summer.)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) also addressed Hawley and Cruz’s comments at the hearing, noting that there was overwhelming bipartisan support last year for a judicial security bill protecting judges’ personal information from public websites. They said that GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) blocked the bill For months demanding equal protection for MPs.

“The cause of protections for our members of the judiciary is bipartisan,” Durbin said.

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