(New York) When Donald Trump wanted to show the American right that he was trustworthy, he turned to Leonard Leo, then vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers, for help.
Posted at 5:00 am
It was the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. Leo responded by creating a list of candidates to succeed the late ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. And Trump rushed to reveal it.
Today, Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society can boast of having played a direct role in the selection and confirmation of five of the Supreme Court’s nine justices: John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
This accomplishment makes Leo one of the most influential men in the United States that most Americans have never heard of. A fundamentalist Catholic and a member of the Order of Malta, this Long Island native is a networking genius. Since the early 1990s, through the Federalist Society and countless other organizations, he has created a large fraternity of jurists who interpret the Constitution as it was adopted more than 200 years ago.
His vision is on the way to becoming a reality: to infiltrate the federal courts to take the United States back to a time when contraception, abortion, and gay marriage were not constitutional rights.
To achieve their goals, Leo and his allies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the years from billionaires whose identities are often unknown. But Koch Industries, Chevron, and the Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation, among others, are among the Federalist Society’s biggest donors. What they have in common is that they oppose any action taken to combat global warming that could endanger their interests.
And the new Supreme Court majority could grant one of its greatest wishes as soon as this week or next, justifying every donation to the Federalist Society and other Leonard Leo organizations.
“The worst is yet to come. Last Friday, following the repeal of Roe v. Wade, that phrase came to many people concerned about the future of American rights.
But this “worse” could follow the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)”.
The highest court in the United States must determine whether the EPA, a federal agency, has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, which produce nearly 20% of the electricity in the United States.
In 2007, the Supreme Court narrowly recognized the powers of the EPA as the agency responsible for controlling air pollution under the Clean Air Act, a law passed in the 1960s.
Since 2007, however, the Supreme Court has been reorganized. It now includes ultra-conservative judges who want to dismantle the so-called “administrative state,” embodied here by the EPA. Last March, during the West Virginia v. EPA,” the same judges sympathized with the plaintiffs’ argument – 15 attorneys general from conservative states – that it was up to Congress – not the EPA – to regulate carbon emissions.2 coal power plants.
The catch is that Congress is unlikely to do anything about global warming, being under the influence of the same donors who funded the Federalist Society’s legal lobbying efforts and the Republican Attorney Generals’ election campaigns.
One such scenario, combined with a Supreme Court decision stripping the EPA of the ability to regulate CO2 Coal-fired power plants would be catastrophic for the planet, according to environmentalists.
“Without efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, temperatures could rise by as much as 5.6°C, with irreversible consequences for thousands of years,” climate scientists wrote to the Supreme Court.
But Leonard Leo doesn’t want to stop there. At the head of a new organization, CRC Advisors, the former vice president of the Federalist Society directs lawsuits by Republican attorneys general and aims to challenge the rules of the “administrative state” in court.
One of those rules, announced by the Biden administration in 2021, aims to reduce car pollution by requiring manufacturers to sell more electric vehicles.
If they take up this case, the ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices, who owe their position in part to money from Koch Industries and Chevron, will scan the constitution and find no mention of electric vehicles. Can we doubt their judgement?