The coordinated campaign between elected officials and pressure groups to block confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to a position as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court seemed, at least in terms of its scale and brazenness, to be sui generis — despite the ugly Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas confirmation processes, never before had our country seen anything like this effort to politicize the judiciary system, transparently and in some cases expressly to ensure the courts would reliably support key Left-wing policy objectives.
As the Washington Examiner described the campaign, the goal was to extend “The Supreme Court's days as a super-legislature,” which is “only natural for those who think the courts are there to make policy decisions.”
Yet in truth, this display was part of a larger pattern underway nationwide. Major ideological donors are underwriting campaigns to use the judiciary and the broader legal system to attain outcomes that have been frustrated by a lack of political support.
In late August, the Competitive Enterprise issued a report I wrote titled “Law Enforcement for Rent: How Special Interests Fund Climate Policy through State Attorneys General”. This detailed, with an expansive appendix of source documents, an elaborate campaign to use law enforcement, in coordination with major donors and activist pressure groups, to attain a “climate change” policy agenda that failed through the proper policymaking process.
Donor-financed governance is a rapidly expanding strategy for the Left. It recently expanded into dangerous and likely unconstitutional territory — state attorney general (AG) offices — through the use of “special assistant attorneys general” funded by Michael Bloomberg expressly to pursue (and report back on) “climate” matters of interest to Bloomberg.
In fact, the Bloomberg-funded operation’s pitch openly offered the inducements of a network of private attorneys and public relations services to AG offices which accept a Bloomberg-hired “special prosecutor” to “advanc[e] progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions.”
On September 15, 2017, the New Mexico AG office eagerly vowed that, if awarded a Bloomberg-financed prosecutor, it would work with him “to identify 'pressure points' on which litigation can be used to most effectively influence policy.”
Bloomberg’s group was impressed, awarding Hector Balderas, the New Mexico AG and a rising Democratic star, not one but two privately funded prosecutors, one more than he asked for.
This mercenary use of law enforcement to advance an openly activist agenda and to pursue politically motivated investigations and litigation is just the latest, if most menacing, extension of a billion-dollar per year climate industry.
The coordinated attorneys general campaign represents private interests commandeering state police powers to target opponents of their policy objectives, hijacking the justice system to overturn a political agenda’s rejection through the democratic process.
Which brings us back to the recent ugliness in which political campaigners marshaled the mob to debase themselves and our institutions in seeking to block the confirmation of now-Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Both are being underwritten by activist, left-wing billionaires, one through the creation of a “State Energy and Environmental Impact Center”, the other “organized by groups of which Mr. [George] Soros is an important patron.”
The parallels between these two campaigns run much deeper. They are critical to understand in any assessment of the Bloomberg campaign, and the broader threat. In short, both coordinated campaigns entail major donors engaging activist pressure groups to attain a policy agenda that failed to be pushed through when tried through proper channels.
An October 8, 2018 Wall Street Journal lead editorial, “The Next Kavanaugh Stakes”, is highly relevant to this unfolding scandal of privately-funded special prosecutors to pursue issues of leftist billionaire donor concern.
The real source of Democratic grief is less what the new Roberts majority might do than what it won’t. For some years at least, the Supreme Court is unlikely to be the Left’s alternative legislature for its policy agenda.
The reason nominations have become so contentious isn’t merely because the country is politically divided. It is because progressives have used the courts as a political pile-driver on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty, among other controversial issues. Democrats will now have to achieve their goals the old-fashioned way — by winning elections.
The same mentality explains the zealous focus on capturing attorneys general offices for the Left this coming year. As one candidate let slip, “It's so free from interference. You can just sue and go after people. You don't have to run it up any flagpole or get a committee or do anything," [Democratic nominee Sean Shaw] says. "You just do it."
We expect further revelations and long-overdue legislative oversight of these chaired prosecutors. As you read about this, and if the promised campaign to unseat Associate Justice Kavanaugh in fact moves forward, keep in mind these campaigns’ shared objective, of owning the judicial system for purposes of obtaining that which is properly — but to date unsuccessfully — pursued through the democratic process.
Chris Horner is a Senior Fellow at the Washington, D.C. think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, and member of the Board of Directors of Government Accountability & Oversight, which runs ClimateLitigationWatch.org