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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

We Don’t Speak About Leonard: The Man Behind the Proper’s Supreme Court docket Supermajority Categorical Occasions

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This text was initially printed at ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.

Supreme Court docket Justice Clarence Thomas’ decadeslong friendship with actual property tycoon Harlan Crow and Samuel Alito’s luxurious journey with billionaire Paul Singer have raised questions on affect and ethics on the nation’s highest courtroom.

The social gathering friends who arrived on the night of June 23, 2022, on the Tudor-style mansion on the coast of Maine had been a particular group in a particular place having fun with a particular time. The attendees included some two dozen federal and state judges — a gathering that required U.S. marshals with earpieces to face watch whereas a Coast Guard boat idled in a close-by cove.

Caterers served friends Pol Roger reserve, Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne, a becoming alternative for a gaggle of conservative authorized luminaries who had a lot to have a good time. The Supreme Court docket’s most up-to-date time period had delivered a collection of big victories with the potential of a crowning one nonetheless to return. The decadeslong marketing campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, which a leaked draft opinion had stated was “egregiously incorrect from the beginning,” might come to fruition inside days, if not hours.

Over dinner programs paired with wines chosen by the previous meals and beverage director of the Trump Worldwide Lodge in Washington, D.C., the 70 or so attendees jockeyed for a phrase with the person who had achieved as a lot as anybody to make this second doable: their host, Leonard Leo.

Brief and thick-bodied, wearing a bespoke go well with and spherical, owlish glasses, Leo appeared like a personality from an Agatha Christie thriller. In contrast to the judges in attendance, Leo had by no means served a day on the bench. In contrast to the opposite legal professionals, he had by no means argued a case in courtroom. He had by no means held elected workplace or run a regulation faculty. On paper, he was much less essential than virtually all of his friends.

If People had heard of Leo in any respect, it was for his function in constructing the conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court docket. He drew up the lists of potential justices that Donald Trump launched in the course of the 2016 marketing campaign. He suggested Trump on the nominations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Earlier than that, he’d helped choose or affirm the courtroom’s three different conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. However the friends who gathered that night time beneath a tent in Leo’s yard included key gamers in a less-understood effort, one aimed toward remodeling your complete judiciary.

Many might thank Leo for his or her development. Thomas Hardiman of the third U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals had dominated to loosen gun legal guidelines and overturn Obamacare’s birth-control mandate. Leo had put Hardiman on Trump’s Supreme Court docket shortlist and helped affirm him to 2 earlier judgeships. Kyle Duncan and Cory Wilson, each on the fifth U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals, each fiercely anti-abortion, had been members of the Federalist Society for Legislation and Public Coverage Research, the community of conservative and libertarian legal professionals that Leo had constructed right into a political juggernaut. As was Florida federal Decide Wendy Berger, who would uphold that state’s “Don’t Say Homosexual” regulation. Inside a yr of the social gathering, one other attendee, Republican North Carolina Supreme Court docket Justice Phil Berger Jr. (no relation), would write the opinion reinstating a controversial state regulation requiring voter identification. (Duncan, Wilson, Berger and Berger Jr. didn’t remark. Hardiman didn’t remark past confirming he attended the social gathering.)

The judges had been in Maine for a weeklong, all-expenses-paid convention hosted by George Mason College’s Antonin Scalia Legislation Faculty, a hub for steeping younger legal professionals, judges and state attorneys normal in a free-market, anti-regulation agenda. The leaders of the regulation faculty had been on the social gathering, and so they additionally had been indebted to Leo. He had secured the Scalia household’s blessing and brokered $30 million in donations to rename the college. It’s dwelling to the C. Boyden Grey Heart for the Research of the Administrative State, named after the George H.W. Bush White Home counsel who died this Might. Grey was at Leo’s social gathering, too. (A spokesperson for GMU confirmed the small print of the week’s occasions.)

The judges and the safety element, the regulation faculty management and the authorized theorists — all of this was a vivid show not solely of Leo’s energy however of his imaginative and prescient. A long time in the past, he’d realized it was not sufficient to have a majority of Supreme Court docket justices. To undo landmark rulings like Roe, his motion would want to verify the courtroom heard the appropriate circumstances introduced by the appropriate individuals and heard by the appropriate decrease courtroom judges.

Leo started constructing a machine to do exactly that. He didn’t simply domesticate friendships with conservative Supreme Court docket justices, arranging non-public jet journeys, becoming a member of them on trip, brokering talking engagements. He additionally drew on his community of contacts to position Federalist Society protégés in clerkships, judgeships and jobs within the White Home and throughout the federal authorities. He personally referred to as state attorneys normal to advocate hires for positions he presciently understood had been key, like solicitors normal, the unsung litigators who signify states earlier than the U.S. Supreme Court docket. In states that elect jurists, teams near him spent hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to position his allies on the bench. In states that appoint prime judges, he maneuvered to play a job of their choice.

And he was able to enjoying bare-knuckled politics. He as soon as privately lobbied a Republican governor’s workplace to reject a possible judicial choose and, if the governor defied him, threatened “fury from the conservative base, the likes of which you and the Governor have by no means seen.”

To pay for all this, Leo turned some of the prolific fundraisers in American politics. Between 2014 and 2020, tax information present, teams in his orbit raised greater than $600 million. His donors embrace hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, Texas actual property magnate Harlan Crow and the Koch household.

Leo grasped the stakes of those seemingly obscure races and appointments lengthy earlier than liberals and Democrats did. “The left, although we’re considerably courtroom worshippers, by no means understood the efficiency of the courts as a political machine. On the appropriate, they did,” stated Caroline Fredrickson, a visiting professor at Georgetown Legislation and a former president of the American Structure Society, the left’s reply to the Federalist Society. “As a lot as I hate to say it, you’ve obtained to essentially admire what they achieved.” Belatedly, Leo’s opposition has galvanized, becoming a member of conservatives in an arms race that exhibits no signal of slowing down.

Historians and authorized consultants who’ve watched Leo’s ascent battle to call a comparable determine in American jurisprudence. “I can’t consider anyone who performed a job the way in which he has,” stated Richard Friedman, a regulation professor and historian on the College of Michigan.

To hint the arc of Leo’s ascent, from his childhood by way of the execution of his long-range technique to his plans for the longer term, ProPublica drew on interviews with greater than 100 individuals who know Leo, labored with him, obtained funding from him or studied his rise. Many insisted on anonymity for concern of alienating allies or shedding entry to funders near Leo. This text additionally attracts on 1000’s of pages of courtroom paperwork, tax filings, emails and different information.

After months of discussions, Leo agreed to be interviewed on the situation that ProPublica not ask questions on his monetary actions or relationships with Supreme Court docket justices. We declined and as an alternative despatched an in depth checklist of questions in addition to information we deliberate to report. Leo’s responses are included on this story.

Having reshaped the courts, Leo now has grander ambitions. Right now, he sees a nation plagued with ills: “wokism” in schooling, “one-sided” journalism, and concepts like environmental, social and governance, or ESG, insurance policies sweeping company America. A member of the Roman Catholic Church, he intends to wage a broader cultural conflict towards a “progressive Ku Klux Klan” and “vile and immoral current-day barbarians, secularists and bigots” who demonize individuals of religion and transfer society farther from its “pure order.”

Leo has the cash to match his imaginative and prescient. In 2021, an obscure Chicago businessman put Leo answerable for a newly shaped $1.6 billion belief — the single-largest recognized political advocacy donation in U.S. historical past on the time. With these funds, Leo needs to develop the Federalist Society mannequin past the regulation to tradition and politics.

The friends at Leo’s social gathering in June 2022 celebrated into the night time. One esteemed attendee imbibed a lot he wanted assist to rise up a set of stairs. Ultimately, the friends boarded buses again to their lodge. The subsequent morning, the Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group information broke: The Supreme Court docket had overturned the constitutional proper to an abortion. When Leo subsequent stepped out for his common stroll, it was right into a world he had remade.

When Leo was in kindergarten, he obtained in a battle over Matchbox automobiles. “There was a classmate who had a nasty behavior of punching me within the nostril on the playground,” Leo wrote in response to a query about his earliest reminiscences of rising up Catholic. “I gave him one in every of my Matchbox automobiles, hoping slightly kindness would assist. He accepted the present and punched me once more anyway. I noticed then that doing what our religion requires isn’t at all times going to make life simpler or extra snug, however it’s important to do it anyway.”

Leo was born on Lengthy Island in 1965. When he was a toddler, his father, a pastry chef, died. His mom remarried and the household finally settled in Monroe Township, a central New Jersey exurb the place you’re unsure should you root for the Yankees or the Phillies.

Within the 1983 yearbook for Monroe Township Excessive Faculty, Leo, who usually wearing a shirt and tie, was named “Most Prone to Succeed.” He shared the excellence with a classmate named Sally Schroeder, his future spouse. Within the yearbook picture, they sit subsequent to one another holding payments of their palms, with greenback indicators adorning their glasses. Leo informed ProPublica that he was so efficient at elevating cash for his senior promenade and sophistication journey that his classmates nicknamed him “Moneybags Child.”

When Leo arrived at Cornell College as an undergraduate within the fall of 1983, a counterrevolution within the authorized world was gaining momentum. Iconoclastic students led by Yale College’s Robert Bork and the College of Chicago’s Antonin Scalia had been constructing the case for a novel authorized doctrine often known as originalism. When decoding the Structure, they argued, judges and students ought to rely solely on the “unique intent” of the framers or the “unique public which means” of the doc’s phrases after they had been written. Originalism was a rebuke to the thought of a “dwelling Structure” and the extra expansive strategy taken by the liberal Supreme Court docket majority beneath Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Legislation college students had been additionally fueling this new motion: Within the spring of 1982, three of them based the Federalist Society, a debating and networking group for conservatives and libertarians who felt ostracized on their campuses. Scalia and Bork spoke on the group’s first convention, at Yale Legislation Faculty. There weren’t sufficient individuals to fill the college’s auditorium, so that they held it in a classroom.

Leo encountered the Federalist Society whereas working as an intern for the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington within the fall of 1985. At a luncheon hosted by the group, Leo heard a speech that he later stated “had an unlimited affect on my pondering.” It was delivered by Ed Meese, Reagan’s new lawyer normal. Meese made an impassioned declaration that originalism could be the guiding philosophy for the Reagan administration. “There’s hazard,” Meese stated, “in seeing the Structure as an empty vessel into which every era might pour its ardour and prejudice.”

Leo continued to Cornell Legislation Faculty. The Federalist Society had no presence on campus, so Leo based a chapter within the fall of 1986. He introduced Meese and different conservative students to offer talks. This went largely unnoticed by Leo’s classmates. To be a conservative authorized thinker in these days was to be dismissed as a fringe sort. Originalism “wasn’t one thing that I personally took very critically,” stated Mike Black, a classmate of Leo’s at Cornell Legislation. “I used to be clearly incorrect.”

If his early brushes with the Federalist Society formed Leo’s authorized philosophy, then the battle over Robert Bork’s Supreme Court docket nomination within the fall of 1987 confirmed him how rancorous judicial fights may very well be. The assaults on Bork’s views had been “character assassination,” Leo would later say, fueling a way of grievance that liberals and the mainstream media demeaned conservatives. Nevertheless it was additionally a failure on the a part of the Reagan White Home, which hadn’t anticipated the fierce opposition to Bork and was unprepared to defend him.

Leo and his new spouse, Sally, moved to Washington after Leo completed regulation faculty so he might clerk for 2 federal judges. Then he had a alternative: Take a job with a agency, or work full time for the fledgling Federalist Society.

Leo selected the Federalist Society. However first, he took a brief go away to work on what would flip into some of the contentious Supreme Court docket nominations in trendy historical past. The nominee was an appeals courtroom decide named Clarence Thomas who Leo had befriended throughout a clerkship. Leo was solely 25 years previous. Allegations of sexual harassment by regulation professor and former Thomas adviser Anita Hill had shocked Thomas and his supporters, and the George H.W. Bush White Home scrambled to discredit her. Leo was tasked with analysis. He spent lengthy hours in a windowless room gathering proof to bolster Thomas. The Senate confirmed him 52 to 48, the narrowest tally in a century.

The searing expertise of the Thomas nomination was quickly adopted by one other shock.

In a 5-4 choice in 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court docket dominated in Deliberate Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey to uphold the constitutional proper to an abortion. The three justices who wrote the bulk’s opinion — Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter — had been all Republican appointees. Right here was the best problem to the motion: Even an ostensibly conservative nominee might disappoint. So Leo and his allies got down to resolve this recurring drawback. They wanted to domesticate nominees who wouldn’t solely begin out loyal to the trigger however stay stalwart by way of all countervailing mainstream pressures. Leo and his allies concluded that they wanted to establish candidates whereas they had been younger and nurture them all through their careers. What they wanted was a pipeline.

That meant discovering younger, gifted minds after they had been nonetheless in regulation faculty, advancing their careers, supporting them after setbacks and insulating them from ideological drift. “You needed Leonard in your aspect as a result of he did have affect should you needed to turn into a Supreme Court docket clerk or an appellate clerk,” stated one conservative thinker who has labored with Leo. “He was superb at making it in individuals’s pursuits to be cooperating with him. I don’t know if he did arm-twisting precisely. It was implicit, I’d say.”

The technique was a success with donors. As Leo took on extra duties because the group’s de facto chief fundraiser, the Federalist Society’s price range quadrupled in the course of the ’90s, with trade executives and main foundations making giant donations. The Federalist Society didn’t reply to an in depth checklist of questions.

When George W. Bush turned president, Leo seized the chance to have even better affect. He really helpful legal professionals to rent for key administration jobs and was tapped as one in every of 4 exterior advisers on judicial nominees — a gaggle nicknamed the “4 horsemen.” Leo and Brett Kavanaugh, then a younger White Home lawyer and an lively Federalist Society member, teamed as much as break a logjam within the Senate blocking Bush’s lower-court nominees. In a single electronic mail, a White Home aide referred to as Leo the purpose particular person for “all exterior coalition exercise concerning judicial nominations.”

In one other electronic mail chain, beforehand unreported, a gaggle of Bush Justice Division legal professionals mentioned how finest to publicize a white paper selling a controversial nominee to an appeals courtroom. One lawyer stated he was searching for a corporation to “launder and distribute” the paper, presumably so it wouldn’t come from the Bush administration itself. “Use fed soc,” Viet Dinh, a Federalist Society member who was then a high-ranking official on the DOJ, replied. “Inform len leo I want this distributed asap.” (Leo declined to touch upon this.)

In 2005, Leo’s bonds with the White Home tightened additional, when Bush was offered with two U.S. Supreme Court docket vacancies in speedy succession. On a flight on Air Drive Two, Vice President Dick Cheney gave Steve Schmidt, then a White Home deputy assistant, two duffel baggage stuffed with binders on potential nominees. Schmidt gathered a workforce to push by way of the nomination of John Roberts, Bush’s option to fill the seat of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The group met within the Eisenhower Govt Workplace Constructing, a warren of places of work subsequent to the White Home. At first, Leo was one among the many crowd. However he pushed his manner up, Schmidt stated. “In the event you take it down to a faculty committee, just like the PTA committee, who’s going to be the chairperson of the committee? It’s going to be the one who cares probably the most and exhibits as much as all of the conferences,” Schmidt stated in an interview. “That is what Leonard Leo did.”

Leo labored exterior the administration, too. In an indication of his rising sophistication, he shaped what could be a key weapon in furthering the conservative takeover of the courts. He and several other different legal professionals launched the Judicial Affirmation Community, a tax-exempt nonprofit that might spend limitless sums with out publicly revealing its donors. The group did one thing uncommon for that point: It handled a affirmation battle like a political marketing campaign. JCN ran constructive advertisements about Roberts whereas its spokespeople fed reporters glowing quotes. On paper, the community was unbiased of the Federalist Society and the White Home, however the boundaries had been porous. Leo didn’t formally run it, however White Home staffers understood that JCN was a Leo group. “Leonard was the man,” Schmidt stated. “One hundred percent.” In his response to questions, Leo confirmed he helped launch the group. (JCN didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark.)

Roberts’ affirmation was swiftly adopted with one more Supreme Court docket opening. Bush at first nominated his counsel, Harriet Miers. Conservatives — Leo’s allies — protested: Her resume was skinny, her views on abortion suspect. Bush quickly withdrew her nomination and supplied a hard-right conservative: Samuel Alito. JCN ran but extra advertisements.

At a 2006 Federalist Society gala, Leo launched now-Justice Alito to rapturous applause. He additionally made gentle of the group’s rising affect over judicial choice, which had drawn suspicions from Democrats. “It’s a pleasure to face earlier than 1,500 of probably the most little recognized and elusive of that secret society or conspiracy we name the Federalist Society,” he stated. “You could choose up your subpoenas on the way in which out.”

One of many first issues a customer sees upon coming into the Catholic Data Heart in downtown Washington is a portray of a smiling younger woman. Jesus Christ stands above her, eyes closed and a hand on her head. The woman is recognized as “Margaret of McLean.” Margaret was Leo’s oldest youngster, who died in 2007 from problems associated to spina bifida when she was 14 years previous. Leo has stated that his religion was deepened by Margaret’s life and dying.

The Catholic Data Heart is a bookstore, occasion area and place of worship. Its location within the nation’s capital isn’t any accident: On its web site, the middle boasts that it’s the closest tabernacle to the White Home. Leo is a significant supporter of the CIC, and its unabashed projection of political energy aligns with the central function of faith in Leo’s political undertaking. Standing on the nexus of the conservative authorized motion and the non secular proper, Leo cast a reference to a number of of the Supreme Court docket’s conservative justices, who shared a deep Catholic religion and a authorized ideology with Leo. Antonin Scalia, Leo has stated, turned “like an uncle.” Thomas is a godfather to one in every of Leo’s daughters and retains a drawing by Margaret in his chambers. Leo has dined and traveled with Alito, displaying in his workplace a framed picture of himself, Alito and Alito’s spouse, Martha-Ann, standing exterior the Palace of Versailles.

George Conway noticed this courtship firsthand. Earlier than he turned some of the distinguished “By no means Trumpers,” Conway had been a veteran of the conservative motion. He served on the Federalist Society Board of Guests, donated to the group and was briefly thought-about for a prime place within the Trump Justice Division. His then-wife, Kellyanne Conway, was a distinguished pollster who later managed Trump’s 2016 presidential marketing campaign.

From his rarefied place, Conway watched Leo turn into what he referred to as a “den mom” to the justices. In liberal Washington, conservatives — even probably the most highly effective ones — believed themselves to be misunderstood and unfairly maligned. Leo noticed it as his duty, Conway stated, to assist maintain the judges even after they’d made it to the best courtroom within the nation. “There was at all times a priority that Scalia or Thomas would say, ‘Fuck it,’ and stop the job and go make far more cash at Jones Day or some other place,” Conway stated, referring to the highly effective conservative regulation agency. “A part of what Leonard does is he tries to maintain them comfortable so that they keep on the job.”

On the sidelines of the Federalist Society’s annual convention, Leo made a behavior of internet hosting a dinner at a elaborate restaurant the place he invited one or two justices or distinguished political or authorized figures (Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma lawyer normal who would later serve in Trump’s cupboard, was one visitor) and main donors. “With Leonard, it went each methods,” Conway stated. “It made the justices comfortable to fulfill individuals who revered them. It made the donors comfortable to fulfill the justices and little question extra inclined to offer to Leonard’s causes.”

In 2008, as ProPublica first reported, he helped arrange a weekend of salmon fishing in Alaska that included Alito and Paul Singer, the hedge fund billionaire and Leo donor. Leo invited Singer on the journey, in keeping with ProPublica’s reporting, and Leo additionally requested Singer if he and Alito might fly on Singer’s airplane. The Alaskan fishing lodge the place the three males stayed was owned by Robin Arkley II, a California businessman and in addition a Leo donor. (Alito has written that the journey didn’t require disclosure.)

Leo has helped prepare for Scalia and Thomas to attend non-public donor retreats hosted by the Koch brothers relationship way back to 2007; as soon as, Leo even interviewed Thomas at a Koch summit. The Federalist Society flew Scalia to picturesque locales like Montana and Napa Valley to talk to members. After his Napa look, Scalia flew to Alaska for a fishing journey on a airplane owned by Arkley. Each Singer and Arkley had been beneficiant and early donors to JCN. (Arkley stated in an announcement: “Nothing has been extra consequential in remodeling the courts and constructing a extra impactful conservative motion than the community of gifted people and teams fostered by Leonard Leo.” Singer didn’t remark.)

Leo got here to assistance from Thomas’ spouse, Ginni, when she launched her personal consulting agency, and he directed Kellyanne Conway in 2012 to pay her a minimum of $25,000 as a subcontractor, in keeping with The Washington Put up. “No point out of Ginni, in fact,” Leo instructed Conway. Leo denied that the funds had any connection to the Supreme Court docket’s work, and he stated he obscured Ginni Thomas’ function to “shield the privateness of Justice Thomas and Ginni.”

Leo was not the one one that used religion and beliefs as a bridge to the justices. Reverend Rob Schenck is a longtime evangelical Protestant minister who spent a long time as a pacesetter within the non secular proper. Schenck didn’t work immediately with Leo, however he stated he too befriended a number of justices, praying with them of their chambers and socializing with them exterior of the courtroom. He got here to acknowledge the justices’ “ft of clay,” their human appetites and frailties.

“I understand how a lot it benefited me to say to donors, ‘I used to be with Justice Scalia final night time or final week’” or that I “‘had a stunning go to with Justice Thomas in chambers,’” Schenck stated in an interview. “Anyone can attempt to get change on the Supreme Court docket by submitting an amicus transient — virtually anyone, let’s put it that manner. However how many individuals can get into chambers, or higher but right into a justice’s dwelling?”

In 2007, Leo gave the younger Republican governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt, a career-defining check. A emptiness had opened up on the state Supreme Court docket. Missouri has had a nonpartisan course of for choosing new justices, wherein a panel of legal professionals and political appointees choose candidates for the governor to decide on. Often called the Missouri Plan, it had been adopted indirectly by dozens of states. Blunt, the scion of a Missouri dynasty, was prone to uphold that custom as his state’s governors had for the final 60 years. However Leo pressed him to jettison it. Leo didn’t do that politely.

That yr, with the Alito and Roberts confirmations in hand, the Federalist Society was turning its consideration to the state courts, devoting practically a fifth of its price range to the initiative. Leo traveled the nation, delivering a stump speech of kinds. His early goal, in ways in which haven’t been beforehand reported or understood, was Missouri.

He and his allies didn’t just like the state’s system. To conservatives, the plan’s nonpartisan construction was a canopy for permitting the left-leaning bar to pack the bench with centrist or left-wing justices. Leo’s allies most popular, in keeping with interviews, that the ability to pick judges be put within the palms of the chief or given to voters on the poll field. “In the event you might beat the Missouri Plan in Missouri, you would inform the remainder of the states, ‘There is no such thing as a extra Missouri Plan,’” the previous chief justice of Missouri’s supreme courtroom, Michael Wolff, stated in an interview. “It was an enormous deal.”

To attain that, Leo labored a again channel on to Blunt. The outlines of Leo’s marketing campaign are contained within the paper information of an previous whistleblower lawsuit and in emails obtained by The Related Press as a part of a 2008 authorized settlement with the Missouri governor’s workplace. These information present Leo lobbying Blunt’s chief of workers, Ed Martin, and generally Blunt himself.

In the summertime of 2007, the judicial panel supplied Blunt three finalists. Two had been Democrats. The third was Patricia Breckenridge, a centrist Republican. When her identify appeared, Leo and his workforce mobilized, accumulating unfavourable analysis on Breckenridge and lobbying the governor. “I used to be shocked to see the slate tendered by the Fee the opposite day,” Leo wrote in an electronic mail to Blunt. “It could be very acceptable so that you can scrutinize the candidates, and in the event that they fail to cross these assessments, to return the names.”

“Return the names” sounded anodyne; it was not. Leo and different Federalist Society leaders had a technique: They needed to tarnish Breckenridge’s popularity, spike her candidacy after which use the following disarray to pry Missouri away from its long-standing manner of choosing justices. Blunt discovered the character assaults distasteful and anxious that if he rejected Breckenridge, the panel would choose one of many Democrats, in keeping with an individual acquainted with his pondering. Leo wasn’t having it. “He can have zero juice on the nationwide scene if he finally ends up choosing a decide who’s a shame,” Leo wrote to Martin, the chief of workers. “If this occurs, there will probably be fury from the conservative base, the likes of which you and the Governor have by no means seen.”

Blunt appointed Breckenridge anyway. Leo piled on. “Your boss is a coward and conservatives have neither the time nor the persistence for the likes of him,” he wrote to Martin.

The particular person acquainted with Blunt’s pondering stated the governor didn’t really feel threatened. However just a few months later, Blunt, stunning practically everybody, stated he wasn’t operating for reelection. He had, he stated, completed all he needed. At 37 years previous, his political profession was over.

For 4 extra years, Leo’s workforce continued to focus on the Missouri Plan in Missouri. The Judicial Affirmation Community, now rebranded because the Judicial Disaster Community, gave lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} to the hassle. It failed once more. However Leo, JCN and the Federalist Society took the teachings they discovered in Missouri and utilized them elsewhere, with profound implications for democracy.

As Leo continued to work his affect with state judicial appointments, he additionally homed in on what proved to be a softer goal: states that elected their prime judges. Judicial elections had been low-information races, the place cash might make a distinction. After a decade and a half, he achieved what he had not in Missouri: extra partisan courts, with hard-line conservatives having a shot and plenty of taking their locations on the bench.

Leo turned eager about Wisconsin in 2008. An incumbent state Supreme Court docket justice, Louis Butler, had angered the state’s largest enterprise group together with his ruling in a lead paint case. The following advert marketing campaign was contentious and costly, that includes commercials displaying Butler, who’s Black, subsequent to the image of a intercourse offender who was additionally Black. To have these two footage “proper subsequent to one another, one intercourse offender, one a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court docket, took our breath away,” Janine Geske, a former justice on the courtroom, stated in an interview. (She was initially appointed by a Republican governor to fill a emptiness.) “Most of us had been taking a look at that, pondering, what have we descended to by way of advertisements?”

Behind the scenes, Leo himself raised cash for Butler’s challenger, Michael Gableman, in keeping with an individual acquainted with the marketing campaign. Leo handed alongside a listing of rich donors with the directions to “inform them Leonard informed you to name,” this particular person stated. Every donor gave the utmost. Gableman gained the race, the primary time a challenger had unseated an incumbent in Wisconsin in 40 years. Leo declined to touch upon his function.

The push for loyal conservatives intensified after the 2010 election cycle. Republicans took over many state homes and legislatures. However they realized they might sweep to energy, but judges might overrule their initiatives. Republicans counted on Leo for $200,000 to elect a decide who would again Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who was then embroiled in a recall marketing campaign, in keeping with emails. That decide gained. Walker stayed in energy.

In 2016, Walker had a emptiness to fill, and it was a plum one: The brand new justice would fill out three and a half years earlier than having to run for the seat. Walker had three individuals on his shortlist: two courtroom of appeals judges and Dan Kelly. Kelly had been an lawyer for an anti-abortion group and was the Milwaukee legal professionals chapter head of the Federalist Society, however he had by no means been a decide.

“Leo stepped in and stated it’s going to be Dan Kelly,” an individual acquainted with the choice stated. “There’s zero query in my thoughts, the Federalist Society put the hammer down.” When requested about this, Leo wrote, “I don’t bear in mind,” including, “I’ve recognized Dan Kelly for quite a lot of years.” Walker stated he had not mentioned the race with Leo. Kelly didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Over the following a number of years, Leo, by way of the Judicial Disaster Community, continued to again conservative candidates in Wisconsin, the place judicial elections are, putatively, nonpartisan. In a single 2019 race, JCN funneled over one million {dollars} into the competition in its last week; the Republican narrowly gained. However cash can’t at all times ship in politics. Within the sophisticated political yr of 2020, Kelly, even with the backing of Leo and Trump, misplaced the race to carry on to his seat.

He ran once more in 2023. By this time, the Democrats had caught on and the arms race was joined. Democrats, activated by the Dobbs choice and a gerrymander that had left Republicans with a dominant place within the state Legislature, ponied up with huge cash.

No less than $51 million was spent, together with hundreds of thousands from teams related to Leo. He personally donated $20,000, the utmost allowable, to the Kelly marketing campaign. This was after Kelly aligned himself with these rejecting the end result of the 2020 presidential election.

The costliest state Supreme Court docket race in U.S. historical past ended the night time of April 4, 2023. The candidate the Democratic Social gathering supported, Janet Protasiewicz, gained handily, giving the liberals management of the state courtroom for the primary time in years. Kelly conceded on a bitter observe. “It brings me no pleasure to say this,” he informed the affirming crowd. “I want in a circumstance like this I’d be capable to concede to a worthy opponent. However I shouldn’t have a worthy opponent to which to concede.”

Kelly’s loss was Leo’s loss. Nevertheless it was additionally, paradoxically, a win. Conservatives had been appearing as if judgeships had been a prize for a political social gathering, quite than an unbiased department of presidency — what Geske calls “super-legislators.” And because of Leo, these super-legislators may very well be particularly hard-line.

In North Carolina, Leo and his allies discovered one other lab for his or her technique.

In 2012, JCN started spending in North Carolina, a part of an infusion of funds that toppled Decide Sam Ervin IV, the grandson of the Watergate prosecutor. “Swiftly we began seeing what I’d think about deceptive and distortive” political advertisements, Robert Orr, a former Republican state Supreme Court docket justice in North Carolina, stated in an interview. “We’d by no means seen these in judicial races.” Democrats had been ready to withstand the onslaught for a number of years, sustaining management of the excessive courtroom. However conservative exterior teams persistently outspent their Democratic-leaning counterparts, in keeping with the Brennan Heart for Justice, a nonpartisan authorized institute. The Republican State Management Committee, or RSLC, a gaggle targeted on state elections, outspent all the opposite teams. JCN has been a prime donor to the group.

By 2021, tax returns present, just about all of JCN’s price range got here from the Marble Freedom Belief, for which Leo is trustee and chairman. JCN and RSLC didn’t reply to requests for remark.

In 2022, a yr typically unfavorable to Republicans, the RSLC claimed credit score for flipping North Carolina’s prime courtroom to a 5-2 Republican majority. Virtually as quickly because it was seated, the freshly Republican-dominated courtroom did one thing extraordinary. In March 2023, the courtroom reheard two voting rights circumstances its predecessor had simply determined. The primary was over gerrymandered districts that closely favored Republicans. The second was over a voter identification regulation the earlier courtroom had discovered discriminated towards Black individuals.

9 months earlier, Justice Phil Berger Jr., son of the state Senate president, had attended the social gathering at Leo’s dwelling, in Northeast Harbor, Maine, as conservatives basked within the triumph of their motion.

Now, the newly elected conservative majority delivered victories for Republicans within the two circumstances. The voter ID choice was authored by Berger.

In 2013, Mike Black, Leo’s former classmate at Cornell Legislation, was main the civil division of the Montana lawyer normal’s workplace as a profession worker. A brand new lawyer normal had simply been elected, bringing with him quite a lot of new staffers to the workplace. Black had a matter to debate with one in every of them: a tall, rangy Harvard Legislation Faculty graduate named Lawrence VanDyke. VanDyke had been employed as solicitor normal, the highest appellate litigator within the lawyer normal’s workplace, liable for defending state legal guidelines.

Standing in VanDyke’s workplace, Black observed a number of bobblehead dolls on a shelf. “There was like Scalia for positive. And I feel most likely Alito, there have been like 4 or 5. After which there was this one younger-looking man, and I stated, ‘Effectively, who the heck is that this?’” Black recalled. “And he goes, ‘Effectively, that’s Leonard Leo.’”

Black was astonished.

What Black didn’t know was by that point that Leo had helped to domesticate a whole era of conservative legal professionals on the rise. The system was like a constructive suggestions loop: Younger attorneys might speed up their very own careers by affiliating with the Federalist Society after which show their price by advancing daring, conservative doctrines within the courts. Leo himself would counsel candidates to state attorneys normal. In line with one former Republican lawyer normal: “He gained’t say, ‘Rent this particular person,’ in a bossy manner. He’ll say: ‘This can be a good man. It is best to test him out.’”

In 2014, the Republican Attorneys Normal Affiliation, a marketing campaign group, turned a standalone group. The primary 17 contributions had been every for $350 apiece. Then got here a donation of 1 / 4 of one million {dollars}. It got here from JCN. Rebranded as The Harmony Fund, the group stays RAGA’s largest and most dependable funder at present. (In response to questions for this story, RAGA’s govt director stated “Leonard Leo has achieved extra to advance conservative causes than any single particular person within the historical past of the nation.”)

Attorneys normal are extra doubtless than non-public plaintiffs to have the power, or standing, to deliver the varieties of high-impact circumstances prioritized by Leo and his community. After the federal authorities itself, state attorneys normal collectively are the second-largest plaintiff within the Supreme Court docket.

VanDyke had been a Federalist Society member since his time at Harvard Legislation. He was an editor of the conservative Harvard Journal of Legislation and Public Coverage. He labored at a significant agency in Washington beneath Gene Scalia, the Supreme Court docket justice’s son, earlier than turning into assistant solicitor normal in Texas.

Regardless of his talent and credentials, VanDyke shortly alienated colleagues within the Montana lawyer normal’s workplace. Black stated VanDyke had little urge for food for the bread-and-butter state courtroom circumstances that got here with the job. As a substitute, emails present, VanDyke was excited by hot-button points, usually taking place out of state. For instance, he really helpful Montana be a part of a problem to New York’s restrictive gun legal guidelines, handed after the Sandy Hook faculty bloodbath, including as an apart in an electronic mail, “plus semi-auto firearms are enjoyable to hunt elk with, because the connected image attests :)” VanDyke persuaded Montana to affix an amicus within the Passion Foyer case, which led to the Supreme Court docket recognizing for the primary time a non-public firm as having non secular rights.

For a few years, solicitor normal was thought-about a slow-metabolism job. VanDyke, who declined to remark, represented a brand new era who had a distinctly aggressive, nationwide strategy to the regulation. Only in the near past, state solicitors obtained an injunction blocking federal companies from working with social media firms to battle disinformation, persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court docket to undo the Biden administration’s scholar debt reduction plan and restricted the federal Environmental Safety Company’s skill to manage greenhouse gasses. Dobbs, the ruling that ended ladies’s proper to an abortion, was argued by Mississippi’s solicitor normal.

For VanDyke, state solicitor normal was a stepping stone on the judiciary path, particularly with Leo’s hand at his again. In 2014, he stop the Montana lawyer normal’s workplace to run for state Supreme Court docket, in what turned out to be a bitter contest infected by file unbiased expenditures. The Republican State Management Committee, which obtained funding from JCN, spent greater than $400,000 to help VanDyke. He misplaced. After that, Leo made a minimum of one name on VanDyke’s behalf to an official who is perhaps able to offer him a job, an individual with information of the state of affairs stated. This was not an unusual transfer.

Leo stated he didn’t recall making calls on VanDyke’s behalf. He acknowledged nurturing the careers of a complete era of younger conservative attorneys, amongst them VanDyke; Andrew Ferguson, the Virginia solicitor normal; Kathryn Mizelle, the federal decide who struck down the federal masks mandate for air journey; and Aileen Cannon, the federal decide overseeing the Trump Mar-a-Lago paperwork case.

After Montana, VanDyke landed in Nevada as solicitor normal beneath Adam Laxalt, an ally of Leo’s. Within the Trump administration, VanDyke labored briefly for the Justice Division earlier than the president nominated him to be a decide on the ninth U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals. Lower than a yr later, Trump launched a fourth checklist of potential Supreme Court docket nominees. Greater than a 3rd of the names had been alumni of state lawyer normal places of work.

The ultimate identify on the checklist: Lawrence VanDyke.

In August 2012, the lawyer normal of Texas, Greg Abbott, had a convention name scheduled with Leo. It was Leo’s third calendar assembly with Abbott that yr, information present. (Abbott is now the governor.) This assembly included not solely Abbott and Leo, but additionally Paul Singer, the hedge fund supervisor who had been on the Alaska fishing journey. Two attorneys representing a small Texas financial institution, which had sued the Obama administration over its rewrite of banking legal guidelines, had been invited. The assembly, which hasn’t beforehand been reported, highlights one other key lever in Leo’s machine: The flexibility to deliver donors’ coverage priorities to public servants who can do one thing about these priorities.

After the 2008 monetary disaster, Congress handed the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, aimed toward stopping one other meltdown. Singer turned one of many regulation’s largest critics. In op-eds and in speeches, he argued that the brand new banking guidelines had been unworkable and that efforts to stop banks from turning into too huge to fail might in actual fact make the system extra fragile. Singer was particularly crucial of a provision often known as “orderly liquidation authority,” which permits regulators to shortly wind down troubled establishments, calling it “fully nutty.”

Leo took up the trigger. In line with interviews and assembly particulars obtained by the liberal watchdog group Accountable.US, Leo spoke with attorneys normal in a minimum of three states a couple of authorized problem to Dodd-Frank. He scheduled convention calls with the Oklahoma and Texas attorneys normal on the time, Scott Pruitt and Abbott, respectively, to speak about what they might do about Dodd-Frank.

Oklahoma and Texas joined the financial institution’s case as co-plaintiffs. Montana joined, too. An individual who labored within the Montana lawyer normal’s workplace stated Leo referred to as its newly elected chief, Republican Tim Fox, concerning the case. Montana wouldn’t have joined the go well with, this particular person stated, if Leo had not referred to as Fox. VanDyke, then Montana’s solicitor normal, turned an lawyer of file on the case.

Singer, Fox, Abbott and VanDyke didn’t remark for this story. Leo informed ProPublica he didn’t recall a gathering with Abbott and Singer, and didn’t bear in mind inserting a name to Fox. He stated he supported a authorized problem to the Dodd-Frank regulation on the grounds that its creation of the Shopper Monetary Safety Bureau is unconstitutional.

In complete, 11 states signed on. Once they joined, the go well with was amended to particularly problem orderly liquidation authority as unconstitutional — the availability that Singer had singled out for criticism. For 2 years, the go well with superior by way of the courts, touchdown within the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2015. After an adversarial ruling there, the attorneys normal dropped out.

There had been doubters. A high-ranking lawyer within the Texas lawyer normal’s workplace thought the go well with was prone to fail. One former Republican lawyer normal from a special state stated he didn’t imagine the go well with was crucial to his state’s pursuits.

Leo’s community made an instance of 1. After Greg Zoeller, Indiana’s Republican lawyer normal, didn’t signal on, The Washington Occasions ran an opinion piece by JCN’s coverage counsel — himself a former assistant lawyer normal in Missouri — speculating that Indiana’s lawyer normal might have been motivated by “robust alliances with Wall Road banks.” After two phrases, Zoeller selected to not run for reelection in 2016, saying earlier than he left workplace, “I don’t know if I match at present’s political area.”

On a cold day in March 2017, about six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Leo organized for a choose group to have a non-public viewers with Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court docket. The attendees had been a gaggle of high-net-worth donors who had been organized by Singer to marshal big assets towards electing Republicans and pushing conservative causes. That afternoon, the donors spoke with Thomas. The beforehand unreported assembly was described by an individual acquainted with it and corroborated by planning paperwork.

The donors left the assembly on a excessive and walked a brief distance to the hovering Jefferson constructing of the Library of Congress. Singer’s group, the American Alternative Alliance, was holding a gala dinner for 75 individuals, the place they might hear from “students, college leaders and teachers bringing distinctive insights on the difficulty of free speech,” in keeping with planning paperwork obtained by ProPublica. Leo informed ProPublica that whereas not all the alliance’s donors give cash to his causes: “They’re thought leaders who ought to know extra concerning the Structure and the rule of regulation. I used to be comfortable to rearrange for them to listen to about these matters from top-of-the-line lecturers on that I do know, Clarence Thomas.” Singer declined to remark. The Supreme Court docket didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A yr and a half later, when Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court docket was teetering, Leo turned to Alliance donors to boost emergency funds for commercials that will counter the relentless stream of unfavourable press. He informed donors that he wanted to boost $10 million as quick as doable, in keeping with an individual acquainted with the decision. Swiftly, JCN was on the airwaves defending Kavanaugh. Leo referred to as Mike Davis, the highest aide on nominations for Senate Republicans, and urged him to press forward, emails present. (Leo declined to touch upon this.)

Leo had been in a state of excessive mobilization since Scalia’s dying in February 2016 whereas Barack Obama was nonetheless president. “Looking at that emptiness,” Leo later stated, “concern permeated on daily basis.” In late March, with Trump’s nomination all however wrapped up, Leo, Trump and his marketing campaign lawyer Don McGahn met on the places of work of the regulation agency Jones Day. Trump emerged with a listing of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court docket after which marketed it: “We’re going to have nice judges, conservative, all picked by the Federalist Society,” he stated.

With Scalia’s emptiness and two extra justices approaching the tip of their careers, Leo embraced a extra public place. “He makes a calculation to form of come out from the shadows and put himself entrance and middle, as a result of he is aware of that that may give Republican voters confidence to vote for Donald Trump within the 2016 election,” Amanda Hollis-Brusky, a Pomona Faculty professor and writer of “Concepts With Penalties: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution,” stated in an interview. “However that’s type of an Icarus second too, the place they’re getting actually near the solar.”

As soon as Trump took workplace, he gave management over judicial picks to Leo, McGahn and different conservative legal professionals with robust connections to the Federalist Society. With Leo’s assist, Trump appointed 231 judges to the bench in his 4 years. Of the judges Trump appointed to the circuit courts and the Supreme Court docket, 86% had been former or present Federalist Society members.

The Federalist Society’s alliance with Trump appalled a few of its distinguished members. Andrew Redleaf, a longtime donor and adviser to the group who has recognized its co-founders since faculty, considered Leo’s work for Trump as “an existential menace to the group,” he stated in an interview. Redleaf and his spouse, Lynne, supplied to donate $100,000 to pay for a disaster communications agency that might distance the group from Leo and his work for Trump. Federalist Society President Gene Meyer was “genuinely sympathetic” to his place, Redleaf stated, however declined the cash and recommendation. Meyer didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Leo stated in an announcement: “The Federalist Society at present is bigger, extra well-funded, and extra relied upon by the media and thought leaders than ever earlier than. A lot for Mr. Redleaf’s ‘existential menace.’”

In early 2020, Leo informed the information website Axios he deliberate to go away his day-to-day function on the Federalist Society after practically 30 years, although he would stay on the board. Quickly, Leo obtained all the cash he would ever have to gasoline his subsequent efforts. For greater than a decade, he had cultivated a relationship with a businessman named Barre Seid, who ran and owned the Chicago electronics producer Tripp Lite.

Seid, who’s Jewish, had lengthy donated to conservative and libertarian causes, from George Mason College to the climate-skeptic group the Heartland Institute. Seid determined to place Leo answerable for his fortune — $1.6 billion, what was then the most important recognized political donation within the nation’s historical past. By a collection of sophisticated transactions, Seid transferred possession of his firm to a newly created entity referred to as Marble Freedom Belief, of which Leo was the only real trustee. (Seid didn’t reply to requests searching for remark.)

In late 2021, Leo took over as chairman of a “non-public and confidential” group referred to as the Teneo Community. In a promotional video for the group, Leo sits on a sofa in a charcoal jacket, no tie. Over upbeat music, Leo says: “I spent near 30 years, if no more, serving to to construct the conservative authorized motion. Sooner or later or one other, I simply stated to myself, ‘Effectively, if this could work for regulation, why can’t it work for many different areas of American tradition and American life the place issues are actually tousled proper now?’” Leo went on to say his purpose was to “roll again” or “crush liberal dominance.” The group had lengthy quietly gathered conservative capitalists and media figures with politicians like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. Beneath Leo’s watch its price range soared, and new members have joined from all of the corners of Leo’s community: federal and state judges, state solicitors normal, a state lawyer normal and the leaders of RAGA and RSLC.

Different of Leo’s ventures present a willingness to embrace more and more excessive concepts that might have sweeping penalties for American democracy. The Trustworthy Elections Mission, a direct offshoot of a gaggle in Leo’s community, targeted on election regulation and voting points, was a significant proponent of a authorized idea often known as unbiased state legislature principle. That principle claimed that, beneath the Structure, state legislatures had the only real authority to resolve the foundations and outcomes of federal elections, taking the function of courts out of the equation fully. If the idea prevailed, consultants stated, it might have given partisan state legislators the ability to not solely draw gerrymandered maps however probably subvert the results of the following presidential election.

The Trustworthy Elections Mission filed an amicus transient when a case concerning the principle reached the Supreme Court docket. (The Supreme Court docket finally dominated towards an expansive studying of the idea however didn’t fully rule it out sooner or later.) Leo defended the Trustworthy Elections Mission, saying that “in all of its programming” it “seeks to make it simple to vote and arduous to cheat. That’s a laudable purpose.”

Leo’s personal rhetoric has grown extra excessive. Late final yr, he accepted an award from the Catholic Data Heart beforehand given out to Scalia and Princeton scholar Robert George. Fairly than strike a celebratory tone, he reminded his viewers of Catholicism’s darkest days in historical past beginning with the Siege of Vienna by the Ottomans within the seventeenth century. Right now, he continued, Catholicism remained beneath menace from what he referred to as “vile and immoral current-day barbarians, secularists and bigots” who he calls “the progressive Ku Klux Klan.” These opponents, he stated, “will not be simply uninformed or unchurched. They’re usually deeply wounded individuals whom the satan can simply make the most of.” And after Dobbs, these barbarians had been “conducting a coordinated and large-scale marketing campaign to drive us from the communities they need to dominate.”

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the backlash to Dobbs, and to Leo’s function in that call, arrived on his doorstep. In 2020, Leo and his household moved to Northeast Harbor, a rich enclave on the Maine coast. The Leo household had hung out every summer time there for nearly 20 years. In 2019 they purchased a $3 million mansion, Edge Cove, from an inheritor of W.R. Grace, founding father of the chemical substances company.

Leo informed The Washington Put up that Edge Cove — which underwent greater than one million {dollars}’ price of renovations — would function “a retreat for our giant household and for extending hospitality to our neighborhood of private {and professional} associates and associates.” The Leo household finally began dwelling there many of the yr.

However Northeast Harbor has not confirmed to be the quiet retreat that Leo hoped it could be. In 2019, Leo hosted a fundraiser on the Maine home for Republican Sen. Susan Collins. Collins had forged the deciding vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination, and the information of the fundraiser sparked protests by native residents and liberal activists within the space. After the Dobbs choice, locals say, Leo’s presence turned an ongoing flashpoint and a supply of drama in a city unaccustomed to such issues.

On the night of the Dobbs choice, protesters held a vigil exterior Leo’s home, which was adopted by frequent protests. One resident planted an indication in her yard that urged passersby to “Google Leonard Leo.” One other wrote messages like “LEONARD LEO = CORRUPT COURT” in chalk on the street exterior Leo’s home.

Bettina Richards runs a file firm in Chicago and spends the summers in Northeast Harbor. She lives simply down the street from Leo. She didn’t know a lot about Leo till the Dobbs choice, however afterward, she stated protestors obtained permission from a neighbor of Leo’s to hold a pink fist flag throughout from his home. Leo displayed a number of totally different flags with Catholic iconography exterior his home.

At some point Richards obtained a name that Leo’s safety guard had walked onto non-public property to tear the fist flag down. Richards biked over to restore it. Leo approached together with his guard, and Richards informed them to not contact it. “I’ll enable it,” Leo replied, in keeping with Richards. (Leo stated in his written assertion: “The proprietor of that property got here to us some weeks later stating that whoever put the flag up didn’t have permission and that the property proprietor could be taking it down.” Richards stated one other family member had OK’d the flag.)

As Leo enters his fifth decade of activism, he has turn into too huge to disregard. Liberal opposition analysis teams with their very own nameless donors have launched campaigns to reveal his affect and his funders; one group even projected a picture of Leo’s face onto the constructing that homes the Federalist Society’s headquarters in Washington. In August, Politico reported that the District of Columbia’s lawyer normal was investigating Leo for probably enriching himself by way of his community of tax-exempt nonprofit teams. A lawyer for Leo has denied any wrongdoing and stated Leo won’t cooperate with the probe. In response to ProPublica’s reporting about Leo’s function in connecting donors with Supreme Court docket justices, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Unwell., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., demanded info from Leo, Paul Singer and Rob Arkley about presents and journey offered to justices. A lawyer for Leo responded that he wouldn’t cooperate, writing that “this focused inquiry is motivated primarily, if not fully, by a dislike for Mr. Leo’s expressive actions.”

By all of it, Leo has remained defiant. His imaginative and prescient goes past a judiciary stocked with Federalist Society conservatives. It’s of a rustic guided by larger rules. “That’s not theocracy,” he lately informed a conservative Christian web site. “That’s simply pure regulation. That’s simply the pure order of issues. It’s how we and the world are wired.”



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