By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) The U.S. senator who appeared to threaten the Supreme Court last week if justices didn’t rule in favor of new gun control restrictions has been hit with a bar complaint filed by Judicial Watch.
The government watchdog group noted in its complaint filed with the Rhode Island Judiciary, the state Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse represents, that he was “openly threatening the U.S. Supreme Court” when he recently filed a harshly-worded brief warning justices to “heal” themselves over the issue of gun control or face the possibility of restructuring.
In what many rightfully see as an outrageous threat by one branch of government against another, several Democratic senators filed a brief with the Supreme Court warning that a “reorganization” of the nation’s highest Judicial Branch office was in the offing if justices did not “heal themselves” and rule in favor of gun control.
Led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the brief, filed in response to a New York City gun control law, claimed that the high court has become too partisan and as a result has produced politically-motivated rulings, thus damaging the public’s trust in SCOTUS.
He went onto warn that Congress could someday make changes to the court — load it with liberals, in other words — should justices rule the ‘wrong way’ in the case.
“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” he argued in his brief. “Perhaps the court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.”
That was an unacceptable threat, according to Judicial Watch.
“[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,” Judicial Watch’s complaint said, according to Fox News.
The brief — which also bore the names of Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. — named Whitehouse as “Counsel of Record.”
Judicial Watch attached a copy of a Rhode Island Judiciary record to its complaint noting that Whitehouse’s attorney status is inactive.
Judicial Watch noted that the long-serving Democratic senator is not licensed to practice law anywhere else, though he listed a Washington, D.C., address on the brief he filed with SCOTUS.
JW noted further that if Whitehouse attempted to indicate he was acting as an attorney in D.C. and not Rhode Island, this, as well, would be an unauthorized practice of law.
In addition to taking issue with Whitehouse’s lawyer status, the complaint also knocked 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.”
“Such a threat violates the spirit if not the letter of Rhode Island’s Rules of Professional Conduct,” the complaint continues, citing the Rules’ preamble, which prohibits use of the law “to harass or intimidate others.” It adds: “A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges.”
Leading Republicans condemned Whitehouse and his threat, while vowing to oppose any Supreme Court restructuring.
“When you hear Democrats talking about expanding the Supreme Court……..they are talking about making the Court more liberal,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a tweet. “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
It’s not clear what, if any, action the Rhode Island Judiciary will take, but options range from publicly censuring Whitehouse to disbarring him, the latter of which isn’t likely.
Still, the JW complaint serves notice that any public threats by one branch of government against another — one that is supposed to be independent, according to Democrats themselves — will be called out.
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