WASHINGTON, DC – New reporting from ProPublica this week detailed how conservative kingpin Leonard Leo expanded his court capture campaign to the states, working to elect conservative justices at all levels to force his far-right agenda on everyday Americans everywhere. Described as “Trump’s court whisperer,” Leo schemed to make sure cases vital to overturning landmark legislation were heard by the right lower court judges — then sent up to Leo’s handpicked conservative Supreme Court.
Leonard Leo has written the playbook on court corruption and influence-peddling. He works behind the scenes because he knows his radical, unpopular agenda is not one that can be accomplished at the ballot box. Leo’s manipulation of the American judiciary at every level has led to a systemic roll-back of rights, a growing ethics crisis at the high court, and a rapid decline in public trust in our court system,” said Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone.
“Leo realized decades ago it was not enough to have a majority of Supreme Court justices; he would have to approach the legal system holistically if he wanted to bring lasting change. To undo landmark rulings like Roe v. Wade, Leo understood that he needed to make sure the court heard the right cases brought by the right people and heard by the right lower court judges.
Leo built a machine to achieve that goal. He helped ensure the nominations of justices from Clarence Thomas to Amy Coney Barrett. He used his closeness to the justices to attract donors to support his larger effort. He then used those donations to build a network of dark money groups supporting his candidates and causes across the U.S. And he helped elect or appoint state Supreme Court justices who were predisposed to push American jurisprudence to the right.”
“Leo’s candidate lost in Wisconsin — but his efforts over the years have succeeded in something else: transforming seats on state Supreme Courts into political prizes. In many states, such judges are no longer viewed as independent arbiters from a branch of government that operates outside partisanship but as a kind of super-legislator. ‘That’s bad for the system,’ Robert Orr, a former Republican North Carolina justice, told us. ‘It’s bad for democracy. It’s a very dangerous path to tread down.’”
“The stakes for democracy are stark. Already, a University of Washington study ranking the health of democracies in states found North Carolina and Wisconsin have plummeted from two of the highest-scoring states to scraping the bottom.
One result of this project is clear. Today, the practice of deploying every weapon in the American political arsenal, from nasty campaign ads to spending by groups whose donors are hidden, is now a routine aspect of campaigns for the judges who rule on state laws and, in 2024, might well decide the outcome of elections in battleground states.”
Learn more about Leonard Leo, his dangerous agenda, and his shady dark money network at LeonardLeo.org.