June 14, 2021

Whitehouse Joins Historic City Club of Cleveland to Discuss Special Interest Influence around the Supreme Court

Senator discusses long record of advocating for independence and transparency at the Court

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Courts Subcommittee, joined the storied City Club of Cleveland for an event entitled, “Judicial Crisis?: Dark Money, Court Capture, and the Future of American Democracy.” Whitehouse, Club CEO Dan Moulthrop, and City Club members discussed the half century-old campaign by right-wing donor interests to seize control of the Supreme Court, and the effects of that campaign on American democracy. “I couldn’t be happier to be with the City Club of Cleveland,” said Whitehouse, “I’m honored to be with you.”


The City Club of Cleveland, established in 1912, was among the first of the historic city clubs formed during the Progressive Era. The City Club was intended to be a meeting place for people of “all shades of opinion, political beliefs, and social relations” who care about civic engagement and betterment. The City Club has hosted many prominent speakers through the years, including Babe Ruth, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Shirley MacLaine, Eliot Ness, Rosa Parks, Robert F. Kennedy, W.E.B. Du Bois, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Every sitting U.S. President since Ronald Reagan in 1988 has addressed the City Club. On April 5, 1968, the day after the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Senator Robert F. Kennedy put aside his prepared remarks to the City Club and delivered the “On the Mindless Menace of Violence” speech to a crowd of 1,200, breaking with City Club tradition and taking no questions.

The City Club invited Whitehouse to discuss his lengthy record of advocacy for independence and transparency at the Supreme Court. Whitehouse has garnered national attention for these priorities, including for his presentation during the confirmation process of Justice Amy Coney Barrett last October. He has also made a forceful case against special interest influence around the Court in a number of other arenas.

Whitehouse led a series of Captured Courts reports that he and the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee released last year. The reports revealed how major donors to the Republican Party used hundreds of millions of dollars in anonymous “dark” money to pack the federal judiciary with judges who would rule reliably in their favor. In addition to the workings and dark-money funding behind the scheme, Whitehouse and Senate Democrats’ research showed the practical effect of a captured Court on issues vital to the American people.

The Rhode Island senator has carefully reviewed the record of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts, and highlighted the clear pattern of over 80 decisions, all decided on partisan lines, benefiting the right-wing donor interests behind the court-capture scheme. As Whitehouse wrote in an issue brief published in 2019, “Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have, with remarkable consistency, delivered rulings that advantage the big corporate and special interests that are, in turn, the political lifeblood of the Republican Party.”

Whitehouse has introduced legislation to ensure greater transparency in the judicial system and protect the courts against political influence; published articles in scholarly journals and media outlets on the threat of court capture, as well as possible remedies; and delivered numerous speeches on the Senate floor detailing the threat to our courts, including a recently announced series of speeches tracing the history of court capture entitled “The Scheme.”

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921