Progressive megadonor George Soros has ramped up donations to a group dedicated to packing the Supreme Court, signaling progressives' determination to reshape the judiciary even after a string of defeats.
Demand Justice raked in $4.5 million from Soros's Open Society Foundations to "support policy advocacy on court reform," 2021 fiscal year tax filings show. That's nearly double the $2.5 million Soros gave the group in 2018, when it formed to oppose Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Soros's increased donations could buoy Demand Justice as the group fights to regain ground. The past two years saw the group suffer major setbacks, including the confirmation of two conservative justices and centrist Democrats' cooling on efforts to end the Senate filibuster and pack the Court.
Demand Justice does not seem willing to back down, an attitude that was signaled by the group's calls to intensify protests during the Court's last term as its conservative wing delivered historic victories on abortion and Second Amendment rights.
In the wake of the leaked 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon called for the removal of protective fencing around the Court to help protesters provide "more accountability" of justices.
"SCOTUS leaks are good," he said on Twitter. "Rip the veil off."
The Department of Homeland Security warned of increased threats to Supreme Court justices and potential violence following the opinion leak. Within weeks, a man was arrested outside Kavanaugh's home and confessed to plans to assassinate the justice, citing the Court's anticipated overturn of Roe v. Wade.
When the decision was finally handed down in June, Fallon urged Democrats to expand the Court's seats and referred to the conservative majority as "illegitimate."
Neither the Open Society Foundations nor Demand Justice responded to a request for comment. Fallon, a former press secretary for Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 campaign, told Vanity Fair that he supported protests that took place outside conservative justices' homes after the opinion leaked "as long as they're peaceful."
"I don't think that you should tell people that are on the front lines of having to bear the brunt of the impact of these decisions that they don't get any redress, that they have no ability to protest, or that we don't like the style of how you're registering your dissent," he said.
Until recently, justices have not needed security details outside their homes. The U.S. Marshals Service accelerated 24-hour security measures only after the Dobbs opinion was leaked in May, according to a Justice Department press release.
Demand Justice also spent tens of millions in 2020 to oppose Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation, Politico reported. One of the group's ads said that Barrett and other "far-right Supreme Court" justices would help then-president Donald Trump "steal" the 2020 presidential election.
The following year, the group helped push out then-justice Stephen Breyer to make way for President Joe Biden's progressive appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson, funding a $1 million ad campaign supporting her. Before becoming Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki served the liberal nonprofit as a communications consultant.
Demand Justice does not disclose its donors and was orginally run by the liberal Sixteen Thirty Fund, another Soros dark money project.
As part of an ongoing effort to remake America's criminal justice system, Soros's Open Society additionally funneled $35 million in 2021 to groups backing the defund the police movement, Fox News reported.
Update 1/5/2023 at 9:26 a.m.: This piece has been updated.
Published under: Brian Fallon , Court-Packing , Dark Money , Demand Justice , Democratic Donors , George Soros , Open Society Foundations , Supreme Court