Secretive and well-funded Super PACs have bought a "seat at the table" where Supreme Court nominations occur, effectively delegitimizing the integrity of the judicial branch of government, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse alleged Friday.

"That's not normal, it's not right, we shouldn't be doing it, they shouldn't be doing it. Nobody should be doing that," the Democratic senator said Friday on Boston Public Radio. "Those same interests fund political campaigns for the nominee, and checks as big as $17 million get written anonymously to support that. ... Is that interest before the court?"

Whitehouse elaborated Friday on his statements during this week's Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Instead of questioning Barrett, he spent his allotted time outlining what he said was an orchestrated web of money from anonymus donors flowing into the nominaitons process.

Whitehouse, citing a Washington Post investigation from last year, said money is being funnelled through political action groups and nonprofits like the Federalist Society to support conservative judges through advertising campaigns and telemarketing; those groups then rely on the judges for rulings in line with their beliefs and financial intersts.

He said in 80 Supreme Court decisions that fell 5-4 along partisan lines, he could "easily flag a big Republican donor interest at issue in the case."

Whitehouse said corporate and political interests are masking their roles in amicus briefs — documents filed in court by non-litigants with interest in the case — and using them to lay the groundwork for future rulings in their favor.

"You see a whole flotilla of front groups that come in and write briefs," he said. "We were able to show that in a couple of cases, like a dozen, all come in, all funded by the same groups, but purporting to be separate and independent voices, and it looks like an orchestrated chorus."

During the hearings, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz pushed back against Whitehouse's assertions that the so-called "dark money" comes primarily from Republican or conservative sources, highlighting a judge in Whitehouse's home state who paid $500,000 to Democratic causes before ascending to the bench.

Whitehouse pushed back against Cruz's comments on Twitter, and again on Boston Public Radio.

"Well yeah, we're playing by their rules. The operative question isn't, 'Do both Democrats and Republicans utilize dark money?' The operative question is, 'Who wants to fix it?' And over and over again every Democrat has stood up to say 'we need to fix this' and been blockaded by every Republican in the Senate. ... And by the way, we've never had anything, anything compared to this court-capture machinery I've just described."