The conservative movement transforming America’s courts

Conservatives are winning the battle for America’s courts, a triumph decades in the making. At the center of the movement is Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, who has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for nonprofit groups that work behind the scenes to promote conservative judges and causes. Now a private judicial adviser to President Trump, Leo has extraordinary influence over who sits on the country’s highest courts. “We’re going to have great judges, conservative, all picked by the Federalist Society,” Trump told Breitbart News in June 2016. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were chosen by Trump from a list provided by Leo. They took their place on the Supreme Court alongside justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito, all current or former members of the Federalist Society. Most of President Trump’s circuit court nominees (who will handle thousands of cases each year) are also connected to the group. How did Leo’s network become so vast and his influence so far-reaching? This Washington Post documentary follows the story of the ideologues, activists and undisclosed donors who made it happen. Read more: https://wapo.st/2JVIkV4. Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube: https://wapo.st/2QOdcqK

Gorsuch’s big fat lie

With a shrewdly calculated innocence, Judge Neil Gorsuch told a big fat lie at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Because it was a lie everyone expected, nobody called it that.

“There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” Gorsuch said.

.. We now have an ideological judiciary. To pretend otherwise is naive and also recklessly irresponsible because it tries to wish away the real stakes in confirmation battles.

.. party polarization now affects the behavior of judges, “reducing the likelihood that they will stray from the ideological positions that brought them to the Court in the first place.

.. If partisanship and ideology were not central to Supreme Court nominations, Gorsuch would be looking at more years in his beloved Colorado.

.. conservatives who regularly denounce “liberal judicial activism” now count on control of the Supreme Court to get results they could never achieve through the democratically elected branches of government.

.. They could not gut the Voting Rights Act in Congress. So Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s court did it for them. They could never have undone a century’s worth of legislation limiting big money’s influence on politics. So the Citizens United decision did it for them.

.. Gorsuch has done what economic conservatives count on the judges they push onto the courts to do: He regularly sides with corporations over workers and consumers. We can’t know exactly where the millions of dollars of dark money fueling pro-Gorsuch ad campaigns come from, but we have a right to guess.

.. it appears that the prior relatively pro-business conservative trajectory of the Supreme Court will now be restored.”

.. The nominee himself flicked away White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’s declaration to the Conservative Political Action Conference that Gorsuch “represents the type of judge that has the vision of Donald Trump and it fulfills the promise that he made to all of you.”

.. conservatives, including Trump, want the court to sweep aside decades of jurisprudence that gave Congress broad authority to legislate civil rights and social reform, along with environmental, worker and consumer protections. Gorsuch good-naturedly evaded nearly every substantive question he was asked because he could not acknowledge that this is why he was there.