Republican Gives a Legal Lesson After Claims That SCOTUS Justices Lied

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) schooled Democrats with a pro-bono legal lesson on Thursday after they tried to accuse conservative Supreme Court justices of lying during their Senate confirmation processes.

Following the leaking of an opinion draft written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito which showed that five Supreme Court justices — Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — are prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, some Democrat lawmakers are accusing the justices of lying.

During their Senate confirmation hearings, every Supreme Court nominee is pressed about abortion precedents and the law doctrine of stare decisis. In order to avoid unethically revealing how they will vote if the issue were to come before them on the court, justices typically provide overly generalized answers about respecting judicial precedents.

However, despite what the Democrats claim, these generalized answers about respecting judicial precedents were not lies. According to Lee, respecting precedents is not and should not be equated with never reconsidering their legality.

In fact, overturning landmark precedents because of significantly improved judicial philosophy has a long history in the United States. As of 2020, the Supreme Court had overruled its own precedents in approximately 232 cases since 1810. If the court had continued with the philosophy of not overturning cases due to respecting precedent, abhorrent practices such as segregation would still exist. As Lee points out in his legal lesson for the Democrats, the only reason the left is angry is that the case that is being overturned is not in their favor.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Thursday, chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) asserted that Justice Alito had been dishonest during his confirmation hearings. Lee immediately clapped back, disproving the accusations and giving the committee a pro bono lesson in legal doctrine.

“I remember when [Alito] gave that testimony,” the Republican senator began. “He was correctly characterizing the standard under stare decisis. Stare decisis, of course we have to remember, is not an inexorable command — far from it.”

Lee continued:

“Stare Decisis takes generally the approach that it’s better to have things settled up than settled right. Now that’s the general principle. But it has limits. One of those limits is— you know, it’s one thing to follow precedent when you’re interpreting a statute. A statute can be changed; the Constitution can’t be changed except under the very rigorous standards outlined by the Constitution and that’s why it’s difficult — it’s intentionally difficult — that’s also why we give diminished deference to precedent under the doctrine of stare decisis when it comes to a provision of the Constitution.”

After explaining how the concept of stare decisis actually functions, Lee remarked that “it’s actually quite difficult to defend Roe.”

“And the fact that you’re having to rely on stare decisis to begin with says something about the fact that it’s hard to defend Roe as an original matter [and] impossible to defend Roe as a textual matter,” he added.

“There is nothing deceptive about saying that Roe being precedent is entitled to respect. That’s the whole point of the doctrine of stare decisis,” Lee explained. “The fact that the doctrine dictates that precedent be given due respect is not the end of the analysis; it states the reason for the analysis.”

“I think it’s unfortunate to denigrate the character and truthfulness of one of the most honest, decent human beings ever to serve in the federal judiciary and on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Lee continued.

“But more to the point here: I’d hope that you’d stop and consider the fact that nothing in his answers have proved untruthful,” he added.