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Credit: Nate Sweitzer for ProPublica

The Court Whisperer

Leonard Leo is a power broker who has reshaped America’s judiciary. We discuss Leo’s path to power, how he wields power and his ambitions beyond the court.

Few have done more to build the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority and bring about the Dobbs decision than Leonard Leo. If that were all he accomplished, it would be extraordinary. But Leo is an even more influential figure in the conservative takeover of the judiciary than has been previously understood.

A new investigation from ProPublica and WNYC’s “On The Media” reveals how Leo spent decades building a machine for conservative talent, starting with law schools, reaching into the states and ending at the Supreme Court. It was designed to advance the right cases, argued by the right lawyers and heard by the right lower court judges, and it transformed judicial nominations into political campaigns. To fuel his machine, Leo parlayed access to judges into a lucrative fundraising tool and created a sophisticated dark money network that includes GOP megadonors Paul Singer, Harlan Crow and the Koch family.

Leo played the long game, and his goals are now being realized: Roe vs. Wade was overturned, voting rights have been weakened, the federal government’s ability to regulate has been gutted and the creaky wall between church and state has been eroded. Our speakers include:

  • Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast "We Don't Talk About Leonard"
  • Julia Longoria, radio journalist and host of "More Perfect"
  • Kate Shaw, professor of law at the Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and co-host of the podcast "Strict Scrutiny"

This event has ended.