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June 12, 2024

VIDEO: At Hearing on Supreme Court Ethics, Pressley Outlines Damning Link Between Project 2025 and Justices’ Corruption

“Project 2025 is only able to be successful if the Supreme Court allows it, so Congress must act.”

Pressley Sounded the Alarm About Project 2025 in A Committee Hearing Last Month

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Today, in a House Oversight Committee roundtable on the Supreme Court’s ethics crisis, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) outlined the damning link between Court’s corruption and the far-right manifesto “Project 2025,” a document with hundreds of pages of extremist policies to destroy the federal government as we know it. 

Congresswoman Pressley questioned experts about Leonard Leo – a right-wing megadonor and backer of conservative causes who has used his network of dark money to fund Project 2025 and seat conservative justices across the judicial branch – and renewed her calls for Supreme Court expansion, a binding code of ethics for justices, and investigations into Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. Rep. Pressley sounded the alarm on Project 2025 in an Oversight Committee hearing last month. 

The roundtable, which was convened by House Oversight Ranking Member Jamie Raskin and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, follows the latest series of revelations that conservative Supreme Court Justices Alito and Thomas accepted lavish, secret gifts from right-wing megadonors. More recently, in another blatant example of the crisis of ethics at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts refused to take any actions to require Justice Alito to recuse from cases regarding the January 6th insurrection despite damning revelations that Justice Alito has repeatedly flown flags associated with the “Stop the Steal” movement and January 6 insurrectionists. 

A transcript of Rep. Pressley’s line of questioning is available below and the full video is available here.

Transcript: At Hearing on Supreme Court Ethics, Pressley Outlines Damning Link Between Project 2025 and Justices’ Corruption

House Committee on Oversight and Reform

June 11, 2024

REP. PRESSLEY: My thanks to Ranking Member Raskin and Vice-Ranking Member Ocasio-Cortez for convening today’s shadow hearing on the Supreme Court – a very apt description, I think, given the secrecy and corruption of far-right justices that has been happening in the shadows.

But I’m a firm believer that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we need transparency.

While Republicans have ignored the crisis at the Court, today’s hearing is critical for letting the American public know how extremists on the right are coordinating across branches of government to enact wholesale, widespread policy violence.

Mr. Aronson, have you heard of Project 2025?

MR. ARONSON: Congresswoman, yes, I have.

REP. PRESSLEY: My colleagues and I, we’ve been raising the alarm on Project 2025, a far-right manifesto that has hundreds of pages of extremist policies to destroy the federal government as we know it. 

Everything from a national abortion ban to eliminating the Department of Education to mass firings of civil servants to be replaced by partisan sycophants.

Now, much of this focus has been on agencies in the Executive Branch but it also implicates the Judiciary. 

The only way right-wing extremists will be able to ensure their policies are carried out is if the Supreme Court will back them.

And that’s where people like dark money racketeer Leonard Leo step in. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently subpoenaed Leonard Leo as part of their Supreme Court ethics investigation. 

Mr. Aronson, can you explain briefly why Leonard Leo is under investigation?

MR. ARONSON: I believe Mr. Leo is under investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee for his central role not only in the selection of decade’s worth of right-wing judicial nominees, which is not the direct target of the inquiry, but for his involvement in the scheme to reward these judges and justices with luxury travel, vacation, private jet trips, half million dollar yacht voyages to Indonesia and the like. 

Investigative reporting over the past year has placed Leo at the center of this billionaire justice matchmaking scheme.

REP. PRESSLEY: That’s right. Leo is the connective tissue between many of the ethics scandals of the Supreme Court dating all the way back to when he helped Clarence Thomas’s confirmation and the discrediting and the smearing of Anita Hill.

Let the record reflect, I still believe you, Professor Hill.

Leo’s work to undermine democracy goes beyond the Supreme Court. He has used his dark money network to fund Project 2025 to the tune of more than $50 million dollars.

The only way the Heritage Foundation is able to promote their anti-democratic agenda is through funders like him.

Leonard Leo is reported to be behind lawsuits for the Supreme Court to end Chevron deference. Mr. Aronson, can you explain why that matters when it comes to harmful policies from a conservative administration?

MR. ARONSON: Yes, Congresswoman. I’m so glad you brought up Project 2025 and its intersection with the Court. 

It is no coincidence that the very same collection of dark money entities over 100 groups that have sponsored Project 2025 and its sweeping plans to repeal the 20th century through installation of personnel and reorientation of our policies are the same ones that have been behind the decades-long Court capture scheme. 

And you know, the agendas are connected in very direct ways that my co-panelists have sort of touched on in terms of the attacks on the administrative state, and in terms of plans to install an almost monarchical vision of the executive branch drawing from decades of investment in something called the unitary executive theory that members may recall from the Bush era when it was advanced to support President Bush’s despicable torture program.

REP. PRESSLEY: Well, again, Project 2025 is only able to be successful if the Supreme Court allows it, so Congress must act.

We have to expand the Court to create balance and fairness. We need a binding, enforceable code of ethics to ensure accountability. We need investigations into Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and any others with a record of impropriety on the highest court in our nation. 

And we desperately need court reform to defend our democracy and save lives. 

And a point of personal privilege. I would just love for people to make it make sense for me that Justice Alito can’t tell his wife what to do, but he can tell me what to do with my body. 

Make it make sense. Thank you.