Scrutiny on Leo deepens with new revelations involving Justice Alito
WASHINGTON, DC – A new story from ProPublica is shining light on conservative kingpin Leonard Leo’s decades of judicial influence-peddling. Leo, who handpicked numerous Trump judicial nominees, organized a luxury fishing trip attended by conservative billionaire Paul Singer and Justice Samuel Alito, who failed to report the lavish trip on his annual financial disclosures.
The report raised eyebrows among congressional leaders following months of revelations about shady backroom dealings and corruption crises on the nation’s highest court. Senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, announced that his committee will mark up Supreme Court ethics legislation in response to the ProPublica story. Durbin added: “The highest court in the land should not have the lowest ethical standards. But for too long, that has been the case with the United States Supreme Court. That needs to change.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse remarked: “Yet again, the Court-capture operative Leonard Leo appears in the wings as the key to right-wing billionaire influence at the Supreme Court, this time hooking up another Supreme Court justice with billionaire freebie vacations. Leo doesn’t just have business before the Court – his business is the Court – and any ‘reasonable and unbiased person’ understands that Leo’s side hustle as a luxury travel agent for the far-right Court supermajority reeks of corruption.”
Representative Hank Johnson, the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, said: “These reports about undisclosed, all-expense paid luxury vacations taken by Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito undermine public trust and confidence in the rule of law upon which our democracy is predicated.”
Interest in Leo’s role in the Supreme Court’s growing corruption crises extended beyond Capitol Hill. Read more about Leo’s involvement:
- “…just like Justice Clarence Thomas’ luxury lodge stays, there’s a Leonard Leo connection. Leo is the co-chairman of the conservative judicial group, the Federalist Society. Not only did Donald Trump choose all three of his Supreme Court nominees from a FedSoc list drawn up by Leo himself, but Leo helped Alito get confirmed in 2006. Just two years later, Leo helped organize the fishing trip, invited Singer, and reportedly asked the billionaire if he and Alito could travel on his jet. (Both Singer and the lodge owner were major donors to Leo’s various political groups.)”
Talking Points Memo: Leonard Leo’s SCOTUS-FedSoc Sponsor Family Program
- “Needless to say, none of these billionaires are just old friends in the sense you or I might recognize. But they didn’t just glom on to their justice on their own. Everyone here is part of Leo’s network. Harlan Crow is a big Republican donor but also a big Federalist Society donor. So is Paul Singer. So is the owner of the fishing lodge. In fact, Leo’s network is so vast and deep-pocketed that eventually he decided he was too big for the Federalist Society and struck out on his own. Indeed last year he secured a record-breaking $1.6 billion donation as a kind of judicial corrupt grub steak to fund all his future endeavors.”
- “We focus a lot on the pipeline the Federalist Society created to place ideologically true justices first on the appellate courts and then finally on the Supreme Court. What gets much less focus and what these stories highlight is the way the justices are essentially kept by the Federalist Society and the sponsor families once they ascend to the Court. It makes you wonder: which families got assigned to Neil, Brett and Amy?”
MSNBC Deadline: Legal Blog: Alito’s defense of his free private jet trip and non-recusal reeks of desperation
- “GOP judicial kingmaker Leonard Leo, who also features in the ongoing Clarence Thomas scandal and seemingly everything else that’s shady in the courts, reportedly helped organize the Alaska trip. According to ProPublica, Leo invited Singer and asked if he and Alito — whose Supreme Court confirmation Leo helped secure in 2006 — could fly on the billionaire’s jet. Singer and the fishing lodge owner “were both major donors to Leo’s political groups,” the nonprofit outlet reported.
Jamelle Bouie, New York Times columnist: “The big takeaway from these articles to me is that Leonard Leo is THE conduit for judicial corruption.” [Twitter, 6/21]
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate senior writer: “The ProPublica story on Alito and Paul Singer has dropped and you KNOW Leonard Leo plays a starring role.” [Twitter, 6/21]
Paul Blumenthal, Huffpost reporter: “Leonard Leo out here doing billionaire match-making for his chosen justices.” [Twitter, 6/21]
Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation: “This is the big takeaway from the ProPublica piece. Leonard Leo is basically running a foster care program from right-wing supreme court justices so each one has a billionaire big brother to look after them.” [Twitter, 6/21]
Accountable.US recently published a report revealing Leonard Leo’s personal and financial ties to major upcoming Supreme Court decisions. Best known for stacking the courts with far-right extremist judges, Leo is now involved in at least five high-stakes cases with the potential to reshape American society. Learn more about Leo’s efforts to reshape American society in favor of his radical, dangerous agenda at LeonardLeo.org.