A coalition of 24 groups is urging the Senate Judiciary Committee not to advance the nomination of Amul Thapar, Trump’s pick for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The groups — which include Demos, Every Voice Center, End Citizens United and Free Speech for People — say the Kentucky district judge would exacerbate the growing role of big money in American politics.
“What concerns us about Judge Thapar’s record is that he has gone beyond the Supreme Court’s directives in his antagonism towards basic rules designed to ensure we have a government that is of, by and for the people,” they wrote.
The groups point to Thapar’s 2016 decision in Winter v. Wolnitzek, in which he struck down a prohibition on judges making political contributions. He applied strict scrutiny to this contribution ban even though the Supreme Court has said contribution limits and bans are to be reviewed under a lower form of scrutiny.
In his decision, he said “there is simply no difference between ‘saying’ that one supports an organization by using words and ‘saying’ that one supports an organization by donating money.”
“Put more plainly, if a candidate can speak the words ‘I support the Democratic Party,’ then he must likewise be allowed to put his money where his mouth is,” he wrote.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — the very court Trump has nominated him to — later overturned Thapar’s decision.
“If Judge Thapar had his way, wealthy donors and special interests could be able to give unlimited sums of money directly to candidates for office,” the groups said.
“Thapar would make it even harder than it is now for everyday people to be heard and affect who runs for office, who wins elections, and what issues get attention; and easier for powerful politicians to make secret wink and nod deals with their richest contributors.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Thapar’s nomination on Thursday.