No, Amy Coney Barrett Isn’t Part of a ‘Dark Money’ Plot To Overturn Gay Marriage and Abortion
“When you find hypocrisy in the daylight, look for power in the shadows,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.) said during Tuesday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett. That power, Whitehouse continued, can be found in conservative “dark money” groups, which he posited are propping up Barrett so she can upend same-sex marriage, abortion, and the Affordable Care Act.
This absurd theory is not grounded in reality.
Though the senator gave a detailed presentation, complete with tables and flow charts, his argument can be distilled down to this: Conservative groups have made hefty donations to conservative causes, which have then been litigated in the courts, and the money is somehow to blame. He took particular issue with what he called “the Roberts five”—a series of 80 Supreme Court 5-4 rulings he deems right-leaning victories that can be chalked up to a conspiracy.
“Eighty cases under Chief Justice Roberts that have these characteristics. One, they were decided 5-4, by a bare majority. Two, the 5-4 majority was partisan, in the sense that not one Democratic appointee joined the five,” said Whitehouse. “And the last characteristic of them is that there is an identifiable Republican donor interest in those cases, and in every single case that donor interest won.”
Puzzlingly, those cases did not pertain to same-sex marriage, abortion, or the Affordable Care Act, all of which have recent decisions that cut in the liberal direction. See Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the 5-4 decision that legalized gay marriage, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo (2020), the 5-4 decision that struck down a restrictive Louisiana ab
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