The Secrets of Leonard Leo, the Man Behind Trumps Supreme Court Pick

When President Donald Trump nominates a right to the Supreme Court on Monday evening, he will be carrying on business as the agenda of a small, reticent structure of most conservative Catholic activists previously responsible for placing three justices( Alito, Roberts, and Gorsuch) on the high court.

And yet few people know who they are–until now.

At the center of the network is Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, the association of legal professionals that has been the pipeline for virtually all of Trump’s judicial campaigners.( Leo is on leave from the Federalist Society to privately facilitate Trump in picking a replacing for Justice Anthony Kennedy .) His formal claim is executive vice president, but that capacity belies Leo’s influence.

Directly or through substitutes, he has located dozens of life-tenure evaluates on the federal terrace; effectively controls the Judicial Crisis Network, which led the opposition to President Obama’s high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland; he heavily affects the Becket Fund law firm that represented Hobby Lobby in its successful challenge of contraception; and now supervises admissions and hires at the George Mason Law School, newly renamed in remember of Justice Antonin Scalia.

” Leonard Leo was a utopian ,” supposed Tom Carter, who acted as Leo’s media connects administrator when he was chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom( USCIRF ), in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast.” He figured out 20 years ago that conservatives had lost the culture campaign. Abortion, lesbian freedoms, contraception–conservatives didn’t have a chance if public opinion persisted. So they needed to stack the courts .”

Amazingly, answered Carter, Leo has succeeded in this mission with few people making notice.

” The Christian right has been written about a good deal, but hardly anyone talks about the Catholic privilege ,” Carter supposed.” Four Supreme Court justices–they’re more successful than anybody: the NRA, the Israel lobby, Big Pharma , nobody is has had that kind of affect .”

Catholic Fundamentalist

Leo is a member of the secretive, terribly conservative Gallants of Malta, a Catholic ordering founded in the 12 th century that functions as a quasi-independent sovereign person with its own diplomatic corps( separate from the Vatican ), United Nations status, and a tremendous amount of money and land.

The Knights, which recently have tussled with Pope Francis and repelled his calls for reform, make their own planned of commits, as monks do. On the surface, the primary work of the dictate is humanitarian work throughout the world, but it is also home to memo Catholic conservatives including Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, a repeated foe of the reformist pope.

” Leonard’s religion is paramount to him ,” Carter alleged.” When he traveled, staff member had to find him a church near where he was staying so he could mention[ listen] Mass every day .”

To is ensured , none of this is to repeat the obnoxious claims of anti-Catholicism of papist conspiracies and dual allegiance. But Leo has expended a profession shaping the federal judiciary to wonder strict, conservative religion dogmas.

Those include the notions that human life begins at perception and that homosexuality is immoral. The conclude is that the moral” natural law” is as part of the fabric of the universe as the regulations of mood, and it trumps any secular rule that humans( or parliaments) might dream up. As developed by St. Thomas Aquinas and a millennium of subsequent philosophers, everything has its “natural” perform and its “unnatural” ill-use. Food is for nourishment , not gustatory love; sexuality is for procreation , not amusement; sensual delight is luxuria , a unholy diversion of amusement from its intended purpose of reproduction.

” He figured out 20 years ago that conservatives had lost the culture fight. So they were required load the courts .”
— Tom Carter

Moreover, men and women are “complementary” to one another; heterosexual marriage is part of such structures of the universe. Thus the Catholic catechism teaches that” lesbian accomplishments are fundamentally ill. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the talent of life .” And life “re starting” idea, making abortion and even contraception acts of slaying. And since God has decided all of these facts, types has no power to( secular or religious) to decide them for themselves.

Leo’s religious beliefs have also occasionally certified as bias against other faiths. When he was chairman of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom( he was appointed by President Bush in 2007 ), Leo repelled off a discrimination suit brought by a Muslim onetime employee who remarks she was fired because of her sect. Various USCIRF works resigned over the conflict and Leo was fired not long thereafter.

In 2011, Leo frisked a leading role in successfully defending an Islamic center near the scene of the 9/11 affects in New York that was denigrated by the right as the “Ground Zero Mosque”( it wasn’t a mosque and was various obstructs from Ground Zero ). Leo was the director of Liberty Central, a Tea party affiliated group he co-founded with Ginni Thomas, spouse of Clarence Thomas, that organized a application against the center.

Three Right and Counting

Leo is most closely associated with the Federalist Society, which he joined in the 1990 s. Sometimes thought of as a legal association, the Federalist Society is actually a large right-wing system that grooms conservative law students still in statute academy( patronizing everything from free burrito lunches to conferences, talkers, and publications ), associates them together, mentors them, concludes them rackets, and eventually neighbourhoods them in courts and in government. It’s like a large-scale fraternity, tied together by ideological conformity.( The Federalist Society did not respond to The Daily Beast’s is asking for observation .)

The Federalist Society network is now estimated to include over 70,000 parties. In 2016, they reported $25 million in net assets.

Leo represented the decisive role in the appointed of Justice Alito( whom few people had heard of before Leo first promoted him ), Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Gorsuch–as well as in the unprecedented stonewalling of would-be Justice Merrick Garland.

Now, of the 25 people on Trump’s Supreme Court list, all but one are Federalist Society representatives or affiliates. Justice Gorsuch was the speaker at the 2017 Federalist Society carnival. And when Gorsuch was asked how he had come to Trump’s attention, he told Congress,” On about December 2, 2016, I was contacted by Leonard Leo”( PDF ).

And of the 18 beings Trump has nominated to federal appeals court, 17 are Federalist Society members or affiliates.

These include appellate court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a producing Supreme Court contender and member of a far-right Catholic sect “ve called the” Parties of Praise that meets squander of actual “handmaids”( now called ” women captains “); John Bush, who compared abortion to bondage, promoted the birther plot, and then lied to the Senate about doing so; Thomas Farr, whom the Congressional Black Caucus described as” the preeminent attorney for North Carolina Republicans seeking to curtail the voting rights of people of color”( PDF ); and Jeff Mateer, who said in a communication that parents litigating on behalf of their transgender babes” truly shows you how Satan’s plan is manipulate and the destruction that’s going on .”

Indeed, while the Trump list was first ascribed to John Malcolm at the Heritage Foundation, Carter said that this was just another trick of obfuscation:” a acces of saying it’s Heritage’s list and not Federalist Society’s directory .”

Ironically, while trying to minimise the Federalist Society’s influence, White House counsel Don McGahn, the point man on judicial campaigners, managed to confirm it.

” Our foes of judicial nominees frequently claim the president has outsourced his selection of reviewers ,” McGahn said at a Federalist Society event last year.” That is completely false. I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since principle school, still am, so frankly it seems like it’s been in-sourced .”

In addition to creating a vast network that serves as a counterpoint to the mainstream legal world, the Federalist Society has mainstreamed hypothesis that were once considered intellectual outliers: that most of the New Deal and administrative mood are unconstitutional, that corporations have free speech and free religion rights, that women and LGBT beings are not” protected class” under constitutional law, and that there is no privacy rights implied by the due process clause of the Constitution( i.e ., censoring abortion, contraception, and gay marriage are alone constitutional ).

Two decades ago, hardly anyone in the legal academy made these meanings dangerously. Now, they are litmus test for republican judges.

‘Very Good at Staying in the Shadows ‘

But the Federalist Society is merely one arm of Leo’s network. Another is the Judicial Crisis Network, founded in 2009 during the Bush 43 organisation as the Judicial Confirmation Network, with the objective of promoted through Bush’s conservative judicial nominees.

Rebranded as the Judicial Crisis Network under Obama, JCN then produced the effort to stonewall Obama’s nominees, with unprecedented success. It wasn’t just torpedoing the appointment of Garland–although he was surely JCN’s greatest victory. In the last two years of the Obama presidency, the GOP-led Senate confirmed only 38 percent as many guess as the Democratic Senate did under the last two years of President George W. Bush.

JCN is ability by Leo protege Carrie Severino, a onetime salesclerk to Justice Thomas and the spouse of Roger Severino , now thoughts the HHS office charged with helping health-care providers discriminate against women and LGBT parties. Like Leonard Leo and Amy Coney Barrett, the Severinos are excessively ardent, particularly conservative Catholics.

But, Carter enunciates, despite whatever legal separations exist between JCN and the Federalist Society,” JCN is utterly Leonard’s group. Carrie was working out of the Federalist Society agency. Federalist Society personnel babysat her teenagers as the JCN project was launched … The JCN is Leonard Leo’s PR organization–nothing more and nothing less .”

JCN is also a ” social welfare” 501( c )( 4) constitution, signifying its records are largely obscured from public sentiment, and it exercises that status to cause and devote dark fund in a variety of ways.

For example, JCN has spent millions of dollars on neighbourhood judicial and us attorney general scoots across the country –$ 2 million in Michigan alone( PDF )– and on affecting territory parliaments to overtake socially conservative and pro-business libertarian legislation. A 2015 investigative report by The Daily Beast disclosed how JCN’s intervention swung judicial elections in Wisconsin, Michigan, and California. JCN also is one of the top three funders of the Republican Attorney General Association, which, among other things, helped Scott Pruitt had given rise to national importance by litigating the EPA, which he went on to lead. It even donated$ 1 million to the NRA.

After was pointed out that JCN depleted $17 million to demolish Garland and promote Gorsuch, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked Gorsuch about its work at the justice’s proof discovering.” There’s a small group of billionaires who are working very hard to influence and even to hold our republic ,” Whitehouse spoke.” They set up an display of harmless chiming front radicals to both organize and obstruct their manipulations of our politics .”

Effectively, the Federalist Society makes the members of the group of conservative referees and its outgrowth JCN promotes them for appointment or poll. And Leonard Leo effectively manages both organizations, which work out of the same place and are funded by the money he develops.

” Leonard is very good at staying in the darks ,” Carter continued.” Going nonsense done without having it traced back to him, leaving no fingerprints .”

Hand Behind Hobby Lobby

The Becket Fund gained national honour for being the lawyers of Hobby Lobby, the evangelical-owned planes bond who acquired a theological exception from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that qualified health plans include contraception coverage.

Named for Catholic martyr Thomas Becket, it is run primarily by far-right Catholics and situates Catholic applies at the center of its work.

” When I was there ,” Carter told The Daily Beast,” the foyers at the Becket Fund were lined with anti-Catholic parodies from the 1880 s and 1890 s … I was told that the relevant principles is’ we protect everybody, because if we don’t stop[ radicals ], they’ll be at our door next .'”

Carter have also pointed out that” At Becket, everything has precedent for Catholic eventually. Hobby Lobby were evangelicals, but the issue was contraception .”( Indeed, abortion and contraception were of little anxiety to conservative Protestants throughout most of the 20 th century; the latter are seen as” Catholic concerns .” It was only with the creation of the New Christian Right in the 1970 s–itself a response to the forced integrating of institutions–that they became of headache to conservative Protestants .)

As for Leonard Leo,” Becket was saved at the least two times by Leonard Leo before Hobby Lobby ,” announced Carter.” It was either Federalist Society money or fundraising. Only Leo could collect that kind of coin .”

Bought His Own Law School

Finally, thanks to a huge $30 million give constituted in 2016, Leonard Leo is the most powerful individual at the newly renamed Antonin Scalia School of Law, formerly the George Mason University School of Law.

When the donation was stimulated, all that was stated publicly is that $10 million came from the Koch brothers and $ 20 million from an anonymous donor brought to the law institution by Leonard Leo. This was an obfuscation. Since then, however, it has emerged that the $20 million received from a eggshell corporation called the BH Fund, of which Leo is president.

In other texts, it was coin that Leo heightened( from a still-unknown source, concealing behind the shell busines) and given himself.

Indeed, it was revealed in May 2018–thanks to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by a GMU Law alum–that the existing legislation academy regularly consults with Leo on developing curricula, hiring module, declaring prospective students, and locating students in federal clerkships.

The documents secreted as part of the FOIA request show Leo interceding multiple times on behalf of conservative student and department campaigners, and promoting program on” Law and Economics ,” which chiefly favors conservative law standings by evaluating issues in terms of business effectivenes rather than justice.

All of “its in” clear violation of academic criteria of neutrality. GMU Faculty Senate Chair Keith Renshaw told at a GMU board meeting on May 3 that” the department is deeply disturbed by the recent revealings of these endow correspondences … In no speciman should a humanitarian donor to a university have any affect over professors. That includes curriculum, module charter, department firing, and faculty or student research and grant. The doctrine driving the force is not what matters. Academic independence, academic freedom and academic unity are what trouble .”

But the arrangement makes perfect impression in different contexts of Leo’s octopus of organisations and affect. Rather than merely grooming conservative law students at academies across the country , now Leo has a law school of his own.

Secret Money Monies It All

Who is paying for all the results of this work? Behind Leo stands a system of dark-money funders in both socially conservative and economically conservative arenas.

First among them are Ann and Neil Corkery, and the dark-money group the Wellspring Committee, of which Ann is president and Neil is the sole members of the security council. Wellspring was founded out of the Koch network in 2008, and has funded other Koch radicals like Americans for Prosperity, often in a labyrinthine course that involves passing millions of dollars from one organization to another to circumvent accountability.

Wellspring collected $24 million from 2008 -2 011, as revealed by the Center for Responsive Politics and distributed over $17 million, predominantly to other shell organizations. Yet because it is defined by the IRS as a “social welfare” organization, it is impossible to know exactly where the money “re from” or disappearing.

Wellspring received 90 percent of its receipt, nearly $28.5 million, from a single anonymous donor in 2016, an investigation by Robert Maguire at the Center for Responsive Politics. It gave a grant to the Judicial Crisis Network that accounted for 83 percentage of the group’s all revenues in 2016.

The Corkerys have been staff members or directors at the extreme-right Catholic League( famous for its boycotts of movies; its master Bill Donohue said different groups focuses on” public awkwardnes of public figure who have earned our rage .”); the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage( Neil performed as treasurer ); and Leo-affiliated parties like the Becket Fund and the Judicial Crisis Network.

The Corkerys themselves are members of the extreme, ultraorthodox Catholic schism known as Opus Dei, perhaps excellent knows we representatives’ fully participate in literal self-flaggelation and other body-mortification patterns.( Harmonizing to 1990 interrogation, Neil inserted Ann to the sect, though he afterwards fell out and she remained .)

Moreover, Wellspring came into existence chiefly thanks to the support of Robin Arkley, California’s” foreclosure king ,” who too money Leo’s work at the Judicial Crisis Network and the Federalist Society.( Precede funding has come from the Templeton Foundation and republican merchant Paul Singer .) In 2011, Corkery burnt her fellow Wellspring board members and replaced them with her daughter and the son of a JCN board member.

” Ann[ Corkery] is very good at nurturing the reports and capitalizing on them ,” a conservative beginning told The Daily Beast in 2015.

The second major dark-money conduit to and through Leo is the “BH Group,” constituted in August 2016.( Leo himself listed the BH Group as his employer on a recent safarus busines filing .) An investigations conducted by Robert Maguire revealed that the BH Group, another C4 organization, received $750,000 from Wellspring for ” public relations” and the other $947,000 from JCN.

In other commands, Leonard Leo and Leonard Leo paid Leonard Leo.

And what has the BH Group does so with the money? It bequeathed$ 1 million to the Trump inauguration–a check, in other words, from Leonard Leo, though it was publicly described as anonymous.

” It’s really quite impressing ,” Maguire told The Daily Beast.” Someone who orchestrated trade secrets$ 1 million contributed by President Trump’s inaugural committee has been given prodigious discretion over one of the most important decisions President Trump will ever originate, and that same person is central to orchestrating the financing of two dark coin groups that will barrage parties in certain parts of the country, promoting whoever is ultimately selected .”

” Someone who orchestrated a secret$ 1 million contributed by President Trump’s inaugural committee has been given huge discretion over one of the most important decisions President Trump is to be able to originate .”
— Robert Maguire

One open question is the relationship, if any, between the BH Group and the BH Fund, which, as described above, is the LLC which donated $20 million to the George Mason Law School in exchange for Leo gaining influence in admissions, charter, and curriculum. These are, apparently, separate syndicates, but they are both controlled under Leonard Leo and have almost identical names.

Maguire told The Daily Beast that no one knows what or who “BH” expressed support for.

Who is funding Wellspring, the BH Group, and the BH Fund? If you add up the above figures, it’s at least a $45 million interview ($ 24 million at Wellspring,$ 1 million at BH Group, $20 million at BH Fund ).

Yet thanks to the opacity of these C4 organizations, we simply do not know.

Other the donor community to Leo’s network of organizations include Koch Industries, the Mercer Family Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and her husband, as well as Chevron, Google, Microsoft, and Pfizer. Are they behind the unaccounted-for $45 million? If not, who is?

There’s often a misperception that the supposedly apolitical Supreme court of the united states justices stop legislators at arm’s length. In actuality, Republican legislators dine, suck, and hunt with them all the time( when Dick Cheney inadvertently killed a man in the look, he was out hunting with Justice Scalia ), with Leo at the counter more often than not.

” He’s gotten away with all kinds of things for years, and nobody seems to notice ,” Carter told me. And because Leo is influencing universities with life-tenure members, his impact is likely to be felt for decades to come.

Adjustment: This part previously announced Beings of Praise, People of Prayer. It also erroneously referred to Carrie Severino as the “husband” of Roger Severino .

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