Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decadeslong friendship with real estate tycoon Harlan Crow and Samuel Alito’s luxury travel with billionaire Paul Singer have raised questions about influence and ethics at the nation's highest court.

This podcast was produced with On the Media.

This is “We Don’t Talk About Leonard,” a podcast series with WNYC’s “On The Media” that explores the web of money, influence and power behind the conservative takeover of America’s courts — and the man at the center of it all: Leonard Leo.

Historians and legal experts say there is no comparable figure in American jurisprudence. To the extent Leo is known, it’s for his role helping to install the conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court. But his reach extends far beyond that. Decades ago, he realized it was not enough to have justices on his side. Those jurists needed to decide the right cases, brought by the right lawyers and heard by the right lower court judges. He built a machine to do just that.

Find “We Don't Talk About Leonard” wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 1

In the first episode, we travel from Leo’s modest roots in middle-class New Jersey to a mansion in Maine where last year he hosted a lavish party with federal judges that fell on the night before the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Episode 2

In the second episode, we find a Montana solicitor general with an odd bobblehead doll; see Leo mobilizing his machine and connecting donors to Supreme Court justices; and see Leo make a fateful decision.

Episode 3

In the third episode, Leo is in Maine, a man in his castle, at the height of his powers. He has helped remake the American judicial system, and now he has a plan to do the same for society and politics — to make a Federalist Society for everything. But his vision for American society … collides with American society.

Do you know something newsworthy about Leonard Leo? Email Andrea Bernstein or Andy Kroll, or contact Kroll on Signal at 202-215-6203.

This series is reported by Andrea Bernstein, Andy Kroll and Ilya Marritz and edited by “On The Media” executive producer Katya Rogers and ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger. Molly Rosen is the lead producer, with help from Shaan Merchant. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Jared Paul wrote and recorded all the original music. Our fact checkers are Andrea Marks and Hannah Murphy Winter.