Leo network closely tied to critical 8th Circuit ruling

Washington, DC – New reporting from Mother Jones today sheds light on conservative kingpin Leonard Leo’s latest attack on voting rights. 

Last month, an Eighth Circuit panel issued a new ruling undermining landmark voting protections. The judges ruled private plaintiffs could not bring challenges under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices. Accountable.US research exposed Leo’s ties to two of the judges ruling on the case, plus his key nonprofit’s “significant interest” in the case.

This deeply flawed decision was bought, paid for, and masterminded by Leonard Leo. Leo knows if Americans are empowered to vote, his vision for our country will never be realized. Instead, he stacks the federal judiciary—all the way up to the Supreme Court—with extremist judges willing to do his bidding.”

Accountable.US President Caroline Ciccone.

Leo has close connections to both Judge David Stras and Judge Raymond Gruender, who voted to block Americans’ ability to sue to enforce key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Both judges appeared on President Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, which Leo originally drafted. Leo’s Judicial Crisis Network also boosted Stras’ nomination to the Eighth Circuit, running a series of TV and digital ads to support his nomination.

Leo’s connections to the case don’t end there. His anti-voting rights group the Honest Elections Project filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that allowing private citizens to sue to enforce their voting rights should be curtailed. 

This decision would immediately impact the ability to protect Americans’ voting rights. Mother Jones notes: “As Judge Lavenski Smith, an appointee of George W. Bush who is the only Black judge on the 8th Circuit, noted in his dissent, of the 182 successful Section 2 cases over the past 40 years, only 15 were brought solely by the attorney general. If voting rights litigation were dependent on the Justice Department, it would slow to a trickle—or, under a hostile administration, to a halt.” 

Learn more about Leonard Leo, his Honest Elections Project, and the constellation of other right-wing extremist groups working to undermine our democracy at MonitoringInfluence.org.


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